Milan Lucic was one of Peter Chiarelli’s first draft picks as general manager of the Boston Bruins in 2006. Now the two are reunited in Edmonton, after Lucic signed a seven-year deal with the club on the opening day of free agency.
That relationship played a part in reeling in the big fish of free agency.
“It helps. It helps a lot,” said Lucic. “Obviously, I got to spend eight years with him in Boston and he’s always been great to me and he’s always put the right pieces in place at the right time. It definitely is a vote of confidence when you know the GM is going to do the right thing to benefit the team. I think that’s the main thing, is making the team better and not always individuals better. Because it’s a team sport, the best team usually wins. He’s going to do whatever he can to make sure he has the best team.”
Chiarelli used the shopping period to reconnect with an old friend and rekindle that Boston bond.
“That made his visit a lot more comfortable and it was also fun just to reconnect,” said Chiarelli. “Once I left Boston, I didn’t really have the chance to see or talk to anybody. I always enjoyed my time talking to him in Boston and I like to hear his thoughts on the game and on players. He knows all the players in the league and how they play and stats. Very insightful guy.”
It just so happened the prior relationship also made it easier for the free agent to sign in Edmonton.
“There’s a lot of familiarity there with me and Milan,” said Chiarelli. “You can tell he’s a very sincere individual and he’s a terrific, impactful player. He’s going to change a lot of things here just by the way he plays and the way he leads. I’ve known him for a long time. I’ve seen him grow as a person, and I’m so excited to have him here.”
Chiarelli showed Lucic and his wife the new arena, they walked the downtown area and spoke about the city. But in the end, Lucic was sold on Chiarelli and the young talent on the roster, making it an easy choice despite being offered more money and longer term by other teams.
“It doesn’t surprise me one bit,” said Chiarelli. “He’s not in it for the money, and I know you hear that with every free agent signing. It doesn’t surprise me. You’ll learn that Milan is like that. It doesn’t surprise me.”