BOSTON -- Los Angeles Kings forward Milan Lucic will face the Boston Bruins for the first time on Tuesday at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET; SN1, FS-W, NESN, NHL.TV).
Lucic, who was traded by the Bruins to the Kings on June 26, 2015 for defenseman Colin Miller, goaltender Martin Jones and the 13th pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, played eight seasons for Boston. In 566 games for the Bruins, Lucic had 139 goals and 342 points. He was perennially among the Bruins' leaders in hits and was an emotional sounding board as they won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and the Eastern Conference title in 2013.
After the Kings' morning skate, the 27-year-old reflected on what it's going to be like to return as the enemy.
"I've thought about it a little bit," Lucic said. "Obviously there's going to be that emotional part of it. But at the end of the day you've got to keep reminding yourself why you're here, and that's to play a hockey game and try to get two points. With all the familiar faces and people that you're happy to see once again, you kind of have to take a business-like approach to tonight's game.
"I think it'll be a lot of fun. I think it'll be a hard-fought game and a lot to look forward to for us. It's the start of a seven-game road trip here, so we want to start it out on the right foot. For myself, first time I get to play in the Garden as a visitor, and it's kind of weird being in the away locker room here and stuff like that. But it's nice to be back and be back here in Boston and playing in front of the Bruins fans again."
The Bruins traded Lucic over the summer during a roster makeover, which included trading defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames for draft picks and forward Reilly Smith to the Florida Panthers for forward Jimmy Hayes. Lucic's $6 million charge against the NHL salary cap was a little too steep for the Bruins for this season and they knew they probably wouldn't be able to retain his services this summer when he can become an unrestricted free agent.
Lucic is an astute follower of the League and the business side of the sport, so he felt no animosity toward the Bruins for trading him.
"Nothing negative. No hard feelings. Nothing like that," he said. "I understood the situation leading into the offseason. And sometimes things don't last forever. … I was ready and prepared for anything. I was ready and prepared to come back here. I was ready and prepared if I had to move on.
"And I think luckily and thankfully I moved on to another really good team, another contender. The Kings, they're a world-class organization and I've had a lot of fun in being a King so far. … There's no regrets on my part in what I was able to accomplish here. Just only good memories and good thoughts and everything. Pretty fortunate that I got to be a Bruin and probably one of the best times to ever be a Bruins. They've only won six Cups in the 92 years that they've played."
Lucic said he expects a warm reception from the fans and noted the Kings will be celebrating their 50th anniversary by wearing gold jerseys -- a little touch of Bruins colors for one night. When the puck drops though, there won't be any friends among ex-teammates, just combatants. And Lucic knows who he's going to hit first.
"Just anyone who gets in the way, I guess," he said. "You know, that's the mentality that you've got to have."