When the Calgary Flames drop the puck tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs, it will officially be Milan Lucic’s 1000th game in the National Hockey League. In doing so, he will become the 352nd player to reach the 1000 game mark, putting him into an elite club in NHL lore. Now in his 14th season, Lucic has suited up for the Boston Bruins (566 games), Los Angeles Kings (81 games), Edmonton Oilers (243 games), and the Flames (110 games).
He was originally drafted in the 2nd round, 50th overall in the 2006 NHL Draft by Boston, and proceeded to help win a WHL Championship and Memorial Cup Championship in the following two seasons with the Vancouver Giants before making the jump to the NHL.
Lucic immediately brought his hard gritty style to the Bruins, and helped shape the identity of that franchise during his early years there, eventually culminating in a Stanley Cup championship during the 2010-11 season. Lucic racked up 184 PIM during that season including the playoffs along with 30 goals and 62 points in the regular season, both of which remain as career highs to date.
With the majority of his best moments coming as a Boston Bruin, I reached out to Dan Ryan at our sister site Stanley Cup of Chowder in Boston for some of his favorite Lucic memories. I’m not going to cut anything out or format it, I’ll just let him speak to his feelings and memories for Looch.
“There are countless great memories of Milan Lucic’s time as a Bruin. He was a major force on those late 2000s/early 2010s Bruins teams that really restored the franchise to prominence. When he was at his best, he was truly a game-changer, a guy who many Bruins fans are pining for to this day.
I could probably go on for a thousand words, but I’ll try to keep it relatively brief.
- The fights Lucic came to Boston with a reputation as a bit of a brawler, and he didn’t disappoint. He had memorable (for him, not so much for the other guy) fights against Mark Bell of the Maple Leafs, David Clarkson of the New Jersey Devils, and many more. He didn’t lose many fights, and was certainly a feared heavyweight during his heyday. One of his more memorable fights came against Jarkko Ruutu of the Pittsburgh Penguins; Lucic was at the end of a long shift when Ruutu came calling. He answered the bell, pummeled Ruutu, then pumped up the Garden crowd on his way to the penalty box. It ruled.
- The feuds Lucic’s running feud with Mike Komisarek of the Montreal Canadiens/Toronto Maple Leafs was one of the best Bruins subplots for several years. When the two finally fought, Lucic tuned up Komisarek, making it immediately clear why Komisarek waited so long to fight him. Lucic getting the upper hand on Komisarek came around the same time the Bruins got the upper hand on Montreal as a team, so it all fit really well. There was another game against Montreal where the Canadiens dressed Georges Laraque solely to follow Lucic around all night and fight him. Claude Julien told Lucic not to fight him, so he didn’t. He ended up scoring a goal instead, and the Bruins won, 3-2. At the end of that season, the Bruins swept Montreal in the first round. Good times.
- The goals He was no slouch offensively as a Bruin, scoring 30 goals once and 20+ five times. He scored a few big goals in the 2013 Stanley Cup run, including a giant goal in the comeback against Toronto. He had two hat tricks too.
- The shenanigans You could make a pretty convincing argument that Lucic running Ryan Miller derailed the Buffalo Sabres franchise. After Lucic bowled over Miller, the Sabres muscled up, determined to get back at the Bruins. It didn’t work, and the Sabres’ downward spiral (which continues to this day) began. There was another time where Alexei Emelin of the Canadiens was so determined to sell out and bury Lucic that he tore his ACL in the process. At his best, Lucic was part of those rivalries that make hockey fun.
Simply put, Lucic was beloved as a Bruin, and remains beloved here by many. It’s a testament to his work ethic and the evolution of his game that he’s looking at 1,000 games played. We sure enjoyed 600+ of those games (including the playoffs) in Boston.”
- Dan Ryan, Stanley Cup of Chowder
Wow, shoutout to Dan for the great stroll down memory lane for his favorite Looch moments. I included a video below with a tremendous tribute to his time with Boston, a highly recommended watch.
After the 2014-15 season where the Bruins disappointingly missed the playoffs, Lucic was traded to the Los Angeles Kings for Colin Miller, Martin Jones, and a 1st round pick. He proceeded to have a strong year with the Kings with 55 points before heading to Edmonton in free agency by signing a massive seven year, $42M contract.
Lucic would have a solid first season with the Oilers, putting up 50 points and helping the team make their first trip to the playoffs in over a decade. I reached out to Jeff Chapman, managing editor of Copper and Blue, our sister site in Edmonton for a bit on Lucic.
“Congratulations to Milan Lucic on reaching 1000 games, surely a major milestone in his career. It seems like just yesterday when I read that Peter Chiarelli had signed to a seven year deal valued at 42 million dollars with a full no-movement clause. Lucic only lasted three years of that deal in Edmonton before the Flames and Oilers worked out a deal.
My favourite moment of Milan Lucic’s tenure in Edmonton came when Lucic scored a hat trick against the Sharks on April 6th, 2017. With just three games remaining in the season, Lucic took it to the Sharks that day. The Oilers were about to face the Sharks in the playoffs that season, everyone felt like a million bucks, and here was the big offseason acquisition taking care of business with a three goal performance.”
-Jeff Chapman, Editor of SB Nation’s Copper and Blue
Thanks to Jeff for that piece of Lucic.
After a couple of seasons of regression, the Oilers sent Lucic to the Flames in exchange for James Neal and a 3rd round pick. While his contract will continue to never look good, he has at least provided some value to the team, having a better season this year and really taking on a leadership role with a team that has been rudderless this season. Lucic also had a strong playoff series against the Jets last year alongside Sam Bennett and Dillon Dube as he finished the playoffs with six points in ten games. He works his tail off every single game even if his hands aren’t quite there anymore, and I have a lot of respect for him.
While he will likely finish out his contract as a depth player, I am personally glad that he is on the Flames and I want to extend my congratulations to him as well for hitting 1000 games in the league.