Milan Lucic


Milan Lucic (born June 7, 1988) is a Canadian professional ice hockey left winger of Serbian origin currently playing for the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League (NHL). He played major junior with the Vancouver Giants in the Western Hockey League (WHL) for three seasons and captured a Memorial Cup, while being named tournament MVP in 2007. He was selected 50th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft[1] and made the Bruins’ roster as a nineteen-year-old in 2007–08. Three years later, he won a Stanley Cup with the Bruins. Internationally, he captained the Canadian national junior team at the 2007 Super Series. Lucic plays physically in the style of a power forward.

Lucic was born in East Vancouver to Serbian parents Dobrivoje Lučić and Snežana Kesa.[4] His father, a longshoreman, immigrated from Serbia when he was 27, while his mother arrived in Canada with her family at the age of two.[2] He has a younger brother named Nikola and an older brother named Jovan.[4][5] His maternal uncle, Dan Kesa, is a retired NHL right winger who played for the Vancouver Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Dallas Stars.[6]

Growing up, Lucic attended Killarney Secondary in Vancouver.[7] He was diagnosed with Scheuermann’s disease, a condition that can cause the upper back to curve, at the age of 15.[2] He played minor hockey in Vancouver, but nearly quit hockey altogether after being passed up in the 2003 WHL Bantam Draft.[8] He was invited to play for the Coquitlam Express of the Junior A British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), but was further demoralized when he initially failed to make the team out of rookie camp. He agreed to play, instead, for the Junior B Delta Ice Hawks, but later played his way onto the Express after five games.[8]

Playing career

Vancouver Giants (2004–07)

Lucic began his junior career with the Coquitlam Express of the BCHL in 2004–05. In the same season, he made his major junior debut with the Vancouver Giants, his hometown WHL team, playing in one regular season game and two playoff games. Lucic joined the Giants full-time in 2005–06, scoring 19 points in 62 games. He added seven points in 18 playoff games to help the Giants to a WHL title and an appearance in the 2006 Memorial Cup. In the off-season, he was selected 50th overall by the Boston Bruins in the second round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Bruins management had considered taking Lucic earlier in the second round with the 37th overall pick, but chose defenceman Yuri Alexandrov instead. The Bruins’ director of scouting Scott Bradley admitted he did not expect Lucic to still be available with the 50th pick, adding “We were fortunate to get him.”[9]

Lucic’s banner in the Giants’ Ring of Honour

The following season, in 2006–07, Lucic emerged as one of the Giants’ leaders, finishing first in team scoring with 68 points in 70 games.[10] He added 19 points in 22 post-season games, as the Giants lost the WHL Finals to the Medicine Hat Tigers in seven games. Despite losing the WHL title, Vancouver appeared in the 2007 Memorial Cup as tournament hosts.[11] Lucic and the Giants met Medicine Hat once more in the tournament final, capturing the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) title by a 3–1 score.[11] Lucic assisted on Michal Řepík’s tournament-winning goal with five minutes to play in regulation.[11] He finished the tournament tied for the lead in scoring with Řepík (with more goals, Řepík was awarded the Ed Chynoweth Trophy as leading scorer) and earned the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as tournament MVP.[11]

Nearly four years after his last junior game, Lucic was honoured by the Giants prior to a game against the Chilliwack Bruins on February 25, 2011. Dubbed “Milan Lucic Night”, he was added to the club’s Ring of Honour, showcasing the top Giants alumni of all-time. The first 500 game-attendees were also given free Lucic bobblehead dolls.[12] As part of the team’s 10-year anniversary, he was also voted by fans as the team’s best player of all-time.[13]

Boston Bruins (2007–present)

In the 2007 off-season, Lucic signed an entry-level contract with the Bruins on August 2.[14] He had been chosen as the Giants’ next team captain,[15] but made the Bruins’ 2007–08 opening roster out of training camp. He played in his first NHL game on October 5, 2007, a 4–1 loss to the Dallas Stars, in which he fought opposing forward Brad Winchester.[16] His first goal came a week later on October 12 against Jonathan Bernier, a game winner, in an 8–6 win against the Los Angeles Kings.[17] By also fighting Kings forward Raitis Ivanāns and notching an assist, he recorded a Gordie Howe hat trick (an unofficial statistic constituting a goal, an assist and a fight in one game).[18] Unsure of whether the Bruins would keep him or return him to junior,[19] he stayed in a downtown hotel in Boston to start the season.[9] However, Lucic made enough of an impression during his first set of games with the Bruins, showing grit and consistent willingness to fight (he recorded 13 fighting majors in his rookie season),[2] that they decided to keep him in the lineup.[20] Bruins management informed the Giants prior to Lucic’s 10th game, accounting for the NHL’s nine-game maximum for junior-eligible players to stay with their NHL club without initiating their contract.[20] He was chosen to participate in the 2008 NHL YoungStars Game[18] and finished his rookie campaign with eight goals and 27 points. Towards the end of the season, he was voted by Bruins fans for the team’s Seventh Player Award for exceeding expectations.[21] Matched up against the first-seeded Montreal Canadiens in the opening round, Lucic scored his first NHL playoff goal in game three on April 13, 2008.[22] He finished his first NHL post-season with two goals as the Bruins were eliminated by the Canadiens in seven games.

Early into the 2008–09 season, Lucic recorded his first NHL hat trick and added an assist in a 5–4 win against the Atlanta Thrashers on October 25, 2008.[23] Later that week, Lucic made a much-publicized return to his hometown in a game against the Vancouver Canucks, which featured a picture of him as a baby on the back page of Vancouver’s The Province newspaper.[24] Earlier in the year, Lucic’s 2007 Memorial Cup ring had been stolen from his home in East Vancouver on July 10, 2008.[25] In a private ceremony before the game against the Canucks, he was presented a replacement ring by Vancouver Giants ownership.[26]

Lucic was chosen to his second YoungStars Game in January 2009. However, he did not compete for the sophomores in Montreal due to an undisclosed upper-body injury.[27] Near the end of the season, on April 4, 2009, Lucic was awarded the Bruins’ Eddie Shore Award for hustle and determination.[28] He finished his second NHL season improving to 17 goals and 42 points in 72 games, while playing predominantly on a line with the Bruins’ top centre, Marc Savard.[29]

Entering the 2009 playoffs with the Bruins as the first seed in the Eastern Conference, Lucic received a one-game suspension after delivering a cross-check to the head of Montreal Canadiens forward Maxim Lapierre in game two of the first round. While the Bruins argued that Lucic used predominantly his glove, rather than his stick, the league held its decision.[30] After serving his suspension, Lucic and the Bruins went on to eliminate the Canadiens, advancing to the second round against the Carolina Hurricanes, who the Bruins lost to in seven games. Lucic added nine points in 10 games in the playoffs.

With the 2009–10 season marking the final year of his original entry-level contract, it was announced on October 6, 2009 that Lucic had been signed to a three-year, US$12.25 million contract extension with the Bruins, to go through to 2012–13.[31] The deal is structured at US$4 million for the first two seasons and US$4.25 million in the third, a raise from his US$685,000 2009–10 base salary.[31] Ten days later, on October 16, he suffered a broken finger requiring surgery in a game against the Dallas Stars while hitting defenceman Stéphane Robidas.[32][33] Lucic returned to the Bruins lineup on November 19, but was injured again four games later, suffering a sprained ankle in a game against the Minnesota Wild on November 25. His left leg had buckled from underneath him while reaching behind him to receive a pass from teammate Dennis Wideman.[34] Missing an additional 18 games,[35] Lucic was limited to 50 contests in his third NHL season. His play was perceived by head coach Claude Julien to have suffered following the two injuries;[29] he recorded nine goals and 20 points to finish the regular season. He added nine points in 13 playoff games as the Bruins were eliminated in the second round by the Philadelphia Flyers. They became the third team in NHL history to lose a playoff series after having led three games to none.[36] All five goals Lucic scored in the playoffs were recorded in the second round,[29] including two in the deciding seventh game, which the Bruins lost 4–3.[36]

In the second month of the 2010–11 season, Lucic recorded a natural hat trick on November 18, 2010, during a 4–0 win over the Florida Panthers.[37] Later in the campaign, he was fined $3,500 by the league for his actions during a game against the Atlanta Thrashers on December 23. After Lucic was hit by opposing defenceman Freddy Meyer, teammate Andrew Ference engaged Meyer in a fight. In the ensuing scrum, Lucic punched Meyer as the two were being restrained by referees, resulting in a match penalty. Three days following the game, Lucic received a $2,500 fine for his punch and an additional $1,000 for an obscene gesture he had made to players on the Thrashers’ bench immediately afterwards.[38] In January 2011, he missed three games with a shoulder injury.[39] Lucic completed the season with a career-high 30 goals, 32 assists and 62 points in 79 games. He led the Bruins in goal-scoring while tying for the points lead with centre David Krejci.[40] Entering the 2011 playoffs as the third seed in the East,[41] the Bruins eliminated the Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning in the first three rounds, en route to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Vancouver Canucks. Although Lucic scored below his regular season pace during the post-season with 12 points (5 goals and 7 assists) in 25 games, he helped the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup since 1972, as the team defeated the Canucks in Game 7 of the Finals.[42]

International play

In the off-season following Lucic’s MVP performance at the 2007 Memorial Cup, he was named team captain of Team Canada for the 2007 Super Series against Russia.[43] The series, an eight-game competition between Canada and Russia’s under-20 teams, commemorated the 35th anniversary of the historic 1972 Summit Series.[44] He recorded three assists as Team Canada won the series with seven wins and a tie.[44]

Two years later, Lucic was invited to Team Canada’s summer orientation camp in Calgary, Alberta for the 2010 Winter Olympics.[45] He was not, however, chosen to the final roster.

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