He may just be the nicest mean guy you’ll ever meet.
That is, of course, if you even remember his menacing, beastly on-ice persona after personally meeting the happy-go-lucky, lover of life and becoming captivated by his ever-present grin.
On June 26, Milan Lucic was acquired by the LA Kings from the Boston Bruins in exchange for Martin Jones, Colin Miller, and the 13th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. After being drafted 50th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, he spent the first eight seasons of his career playing for the Bruins, and won the Stanley Cup in 2011.
Lucic walked into his first meeting with the LA-based media at Toyota Sports Center back in July and by the time he left, those who were skeptical and unsure of what to expect had happy smiles of their own.
“I am a happy guy, it may be part of my personality of being a Gemini - that split personality thing where I’m mean and rough and tough on the ice, but I am a happy, fun guy off the ice,” says the 27-year old, who takes a small interest in astrology.
“I just want to leave the impression of being a happy and good person. I’m not afraid to have fun and I like to speak my mind when I have to and have fun doing it and have some personality,” says the Vancouver native. “Especially talking to the media, you want to be someone that the fans can relate to and understand, and not just sound like a broken record. I’m lucky enough to be an NHL hockey player, so I have fun with it.”
A Canucks fan growing up, Lucic idolized guys like Markus Naslund, Pavel Bure, Trevor Linden and Todd Bertuzzi, as well as former Calgary Flame, Jerome Iginla, whom he was thrilled to play on a line with two seasons ago when Iginla was in Boston.
A first generation Serbian who speaks the language and knows the culture, Lucic comes from a close-knit family of three boys, of which he is the middle. His older brother is currently pursuing a career as a soccer goalie in Europe, and his younger brother recently earned his Bachelor’s degree in Criminology and is working on breaking into that field. Unfortunately his father passed away in April, but conversations with his mom remain constant, both in time and topic.
“With my mom we never really had conversations about hockey, but every time we talk it’s about the family and what’s going on with my wife and kids and back home, which is kind of nice. A lot of times when people want to talk to you it’s mostly about hockey, so it’s nice to talk to someone about something else.”
Although Lucic’s parents were supportive of their sons and their careers, they were the kind of parents who stayed in the background and let their kids find their own ways in life.
“I think that’s what has helped me get to this level – by them guiding me but also letting me do it in the way I wanted to do it. It worked out in the end,” Lucic says.
Playing on the west coast will make it easier for the family to watch Lucic play, as he has a large extended family, which consists of almost 60 cousins in Vancouver, San Diego, as well as Chicago. His maternal uncle, Dan Kesa, also played in the NHL, tallying 114 games with the Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Dallas Stars.
Ironically, Lucic and his wife, Brittany, were in southern California with their two daughters, Valentina (2.5 years-old), and Nikolina (4 months-old), just days before the trade, enjoying Disneyland Park, and are looking forward to more days like that while in LA.
“I’m excited with the area and I’m excited to not have to shovel snow. Even the girls are looking forward to it and when you have kids there’s a lot more to do in the sun than in the snow,” says Lucic, who will rent a South Bay home for the season.
There isn’t anything too wild about what Lucic likes to do away from hockey – he enjoys spending time with friends and family, doesn’t have a dog, and plays the saxophone. His favorite TV shows are ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Entourage,’ and ‘Family Guy,’ and he was quite upset when ‘Sons of Anarchy’ was over. He loves watching sports, particularly football, tennis, soccer, and playoff basketball, aside from hockey. His musical interests include dance music, Top 40, and Country – which means he’ll fit right into the Kings locker room – and he was in a Dropkick Murphys music video after becoming friends with some of the band members. Though he has a soft spot for steakhouses, his food philosophy is ‘anything and everything,’ and Lucic can often be found grilling chicken, steak and salmon at the barbeque – which, with the new climate, will now be all season long.
“I used to watch a lot of movies, but ever since I had kids, it’s hard to get to the movie theater, so I’m mostly watching kids movies nowadays. A lot of people see me as a tough guy, but with having a daughter, I have seen Frozen about 150 times and I do know all the songs, and I’m not afraid to admit it,” says Lucic with a chuckle.
Lucic actually scored his first NHL goal at STAPLES Center on October 12, 2007, and is looking forward to the opportunity to score many more, only now it will be for the Kings.
“I just want to come in a be the player I know I can be and add some more physicality and some more toughness, offense, and winning experience, not that they need any more,” says Lucic about the upcoming season with new teammates. “[Boston] didn’t make the playoffs, so I’m just as hungry as [they are]. It definitely lit a fire under me to not take anything for granted and I think it will make the whole group hungrier heading into the season, so we need to make the most of that.”
Having briefly met Jonathan Quick and goaltending coach, Bill Ranford, and playing on Team Canada with Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter, Lucic had limited knowledge of his new teammates prior to the text messages and phone calls he received after the trade.
“Seems like a group that’s tight and ready to rock, and I’m excited to be a part of a group like that.”
As long as he leaves the Frozen soundtrack at home with his princesses, he’ll fit right in.