Lucic hit another in line of cheap shots; deserves suspension

 

Milan Lucic has made some poor decisions of late, and a message needs to be sent. (Wendy Bullard/ Flikr.)

There has been a lot of discussion regarding Milan Lucic’s open-ice check of Ryan Miller during Saturday night’s Buffalo-Boston game, won by the Bruins, 6-2. In my opinion, anyone who defends Lucic’s hit is dead wrong, as it was yet another in a long line of bad decisions/cheap shots in Lucic’s recent career.

Saturday’s hit was not only uncalled for, it was downright dirty. Lucic had plenty of time to avoid the hit, which is shown below, and broke both an unwritten code of the game and a long-standing rule that players do not purposefully target a goaltender who is out of his crease. Despite what hard-headed fans say, a goalie is not fair game outside of the crease and have not been for many, many years.

According to the NHL rule book: “61.2 Penalty – In all cases in which an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, whether or not the goalkeeper is inside or outside the goal crease, and whether or not a goal is scored, the attacking player will receive a penalty (minor or major, as the Referee deems appropriate). In all cases where the infraction being imposed is to the attacking player for hindering the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely in his goal crease, the penalty to be assessed is for goalkeeper interference.

In exercising his judgment, the Referee should give more significant consideration to the degree and nature of the contact with the goalkeeper than to the exact location of the goalkeeper at the time of the contact.”

Milan Lucic drills Ryan Miller

Lucic clearly knew Miller was out of his crease. He claims he had his “head down” but a look at the replay shows he was looking at the puck and must have seen Miller playing it. Instead of avoiding contact, which even the slow-footed Lucic could have done, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound tough guy decided it would be better to barrel over the 175-pound Miller, who had absolutely every reason to feel like he would not be hit seeing as NHL players have generally respected the code as well as the rulebook when it comes to goalies.

Not Lucic. He has made bad decision after bad decision through his career, sucker punching Victor Hedman at the end of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals and delivered a sucker punch to Atlanta’s Freddy Meyer two days before Christmas in 2010. In addition, he had a “Do you know who I am?” moment with the Boston police after an incident with his girlfriend just before the season started.

Lucic wants to be known as a tough guy, but is he really tough? He has consistently ducked fights with the game’s biggest tough guys, instead bullying smaller guys he knows he can handle. The only real tough guys he has fought — Colton Orr, Jared Boll, and Eric Boulton — have destroyed him. In the Orr fight, Orr gives Lucic a beating before Lucic releases and hides behind the linesman.

It’s time the league cracks down on Lucic. Send him to the press box for a game or two – not just for this hit, but as a culmination of cheap shots and bad decisions over the past few months. Or make him fight one of the league’s true tough guys instead of fighting the Mike Komisareks, Nick Boytnons and Brendan Witts of the world.

 

Steve Kendall

Steve Kendall

Steve has been a writer for 20 years, and has covered the NHL, NCAA, and amateur hockey for the likes of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, the Boston Herald, and New England Hockey Journal. Follow me on twitter @stevekendallthw

56 Comments

  1. Did you not see the fight in 07 between lucic and boll?    Lucic beat his ass

  2. Whats All The Hoopla About The Lucic Hit ???
    Gimme a break. Miller was 25 feet forward out of his crease playing the puck and any goalie is fair game in this situation. The hit itself was not a charge at all as Lucic coasted well before it and turned his shoulder, minimilizing the impact. There shouldnt have even been a penalty ! Miller was tagged but deserves a Grammy for the acting and should have been suspended for his axe work with his stick.
    This game is getting pathetic these days with no toughness allowed at all. There is no body contact left in the game at all and whenever anyone hits anyone, its a penalty, a fight or a media circus.
    Yes , suspend the backstabbers and headhunters and get rid of them for sure but lets get the game back.
    Goalies….stay in your crease and in your zone behind your net where you are protected under the rules.

    • I actually agree with you Dave. I think they should get rid of the rule that goalies cannot be hit outside of the crease when attempting to play the puck. My point was that, by the rules (and based on some past incidents where he was spoken to but not suspended), it was time to send Lucic a message. As it stands right now (and as it has been for many years), goalies are not fair game outside the crease. The rules clearly state that contact with them can result in a minor or major penalty. Should they change that? Maybe. But as the rules state right now, Lucic should have done everything in his power to avoid the hit, and he did not.

  3. Kicked the crap out of Boll? That’s kind of funny. Did he even land one solid punch? I saw Boll hit him solidly a bunch of times, and Lucic has a size advantage over him too. Not to mention that Boll isn’t exactly a name fighter.

    The Bruins market Lucic as a tough guy — then fight the tough guys and don’t run over goalies. At the very least, own up to the fact that you did run Miller and don’t make excuses that you didn’t see him.

    • In the interest of full disclosure, it should be mentioned that Mr. Kendall’s last article on here about the Bruins was about wanting to trade Lucic in October. As a Bruins fan enjoying a six game win streak, of which Lucic is a big part on both ends of the ice, I am glad the Bruins do not over-react as much as Mr. Kendall would have it. As for Lucic being marketed as our “tough-guy”, well doesn’t everyone know Thornton is our “tough-guy”? You are making that mistake because Lucic does not back down, and I am not sure how many other players who led their team in scoring last year can say that. You say Lucic is dirty, then essentially praise guys like Orr and Boll who are literally only there to start fights? Okayyy. Lucic had 62 points last season(79 games), and 165 points in his 294 game career. Orr has 20 points in 375 NHL games, Boll has 43 points in 294 NHL games, and Boulton has 73 points in 553 NHL games. Am I making my point? Big difference between Lucic and those goons. There has been a lot of unwarranted talk of cowardice, and I am just glad that Shanahan did not demonstrate any by handing out a suspension simply to placate what I believe is likely the vocal minority. If you cannot respect the opinion of someone who played for as long in the NHL as he did, and quite recently, then I am not sure what can be done to please you.

      • First of all, I do not have to disclose I wrote an article about trading Lucic. It is in the public domain and can easily be found. It is no secret that I believe Lucic is a streaky player.

        Second, this was written before Shanahan’s decision. I accept his decision even if I do not agree with it. I am not out here saying he should still be suspended. The decision was made and I respect that — unlike so many fans who are still calling for Alex Burrows’ to be suspended five months after his incident with Bergeron.

        Third, if Lucic wants to be known as a tough guy, fight the tough guys. If not, don’t go around sucker punching guys who don’t fight, like Victor Hedman, and running goalies. If you want to play like a tough guy, then fight them.

        Lastly, I did not praise Orr or Boll. They are fighters and Lucic likes to claim he is a fighter. Lucic is clearly a better player than any of them, but if you are going to play on the edge like he does, he cannot back down from those challenges. Neely never did, Iginla never did, Shanahan never did

        Thanks for reading and your commentary. Always good to have a debate.

    • Ok, I am sure most Lucic defenders are not saying Lucic is a saint. Yes he crosses the line and yes I think he could have done more to avoid Miller. Yes it was a 2 minute penalty and I would have accepted a 4 or 5 minute penalty but to have him suspended is rediculous. Looch is a star and Linda Ruff and all other coaches in the league would take him on their team in a second.

      As for fighting.. Is there a tougher 20 to 30 goal scorer in the league?

      As for Miller and his concussion… he is not helping his cause by facing media scrums every day to trash talk Lucic. I’d get a huge headache by the media without having a concussion. I only hope Marc Savard had a concussion like Miller’s.

      • You are a flamin’ mo!
        Boston likes the tough guy image, but this guy is a big bundle of cowardly dirt.

        I think Lindy and the Sabres that were on the ice at the time should have buried this looser. In stead of yelling at the ref. Bunch O Wussies!
        Ruf should have sent a guys over the boards to kick bostons goalie’s A–.
        Next time the Babooins play in Buffalo Ruff will go after them rightaway, they’ll be a little scuffle and a bunch of penalties and that will be the extent of it. Unless Ruff decides to rough up the goalie and do a fine job of it nothing will change.
        I really believe this guy, Susan Lucci, or what ever her name is, is just a bully. I would like to see a one on one with he and someone other than an unprotected goalie or a woman!
        This guy is a true BEE-OTCH.

        I bet my father can beat up your father, so there!

      • I am not going to downplay anyone’s concussion, but Miller’s post-game reaction was ridiculous. If he was that upset, he should have gone after Lucic himself. On that I will agree with you!

  4. Are you kidding me Kendall? Lucic kicked the crap out of Boll… He’s a complete player… Go hate on someone else…

  5. Milan Lucic is typical of the Bruins. His hit on Miller was clearly intentional! Brendon Shanahan took many steps backwards by not suspending Lucic for at least a month. How do egotistical, disrespectful people like Lucic ever learn? The Bruins have to learn that the rules have changed and hockey is being played now without those terrible checks that cause concussions or worse. Apparently the Boston Bruins are out of touch! Shanahan taught them they ARE different from the rest of the NHL. Sad! I was pleased with Shanahan until now. This is a BIG issue for goalies. WAKE UP!!

    Carol in Halifax Nova Scotia

    • Brendan Shanahan’s ruling is laughable. He asked Lucic if it was intentional and Lucic said no. That satisfied Shanahan? Obviously Shanahan is just a yes man to his boss Colin Campbell. Shanahan played this game for many years, he knows 100% that the Lucic hit was intentional and excessive. On top of it, he calls Ruffs remarks irresponsible. Look in the Mirror “Yes Man Shanahan”, and you’ll see irresponsible staring you in the face! Kangaroo Court for a Kangaroo League.

      • I am from the New England area, born and raised a Bruin fan and even I have to agree with you on this.

        I actually laughed out loud when I read that Shanahan was satisfied that there was no intent. How can he say that with a straight face? Hilarious.

        • Shanahan calling others irresponsible? He has completely dropped the ball here and has set the stage for more injuries to goalies in the future. I had respect for Shanahan until now. Not only is he the most irresponsible party here, but frankly he is an absolute fool.

          Embarassing.

    • Brendan Shanahan’s ruling on the Lucic hit on Miller is utterly ridiculous. Shanahan played this game for many years and he knows with 100% certainty that there was intent and that the hit was excessive!

      On top of that he calls the Sabres remarks irresponsible? All Shanahan has to do is look in the mirror and he will see irresponsible staring him right in the face.

      I am honestly incredulous to the utter stupidity that Shanahan has displayed here.

      • If you showed the video of this hit to every player in the NHL, 99.99999% of them would conclude that Lucic had more than enough time to slow down and evade Miller.

        Shanahan must have taken too many hits to the head in his own career however, since he is part of the 00.00001 crowd. If you ask me, not only did Lucic have enough time to react, but it is obvious that he purposely gains leverage with his legs, lifts his arms and lays into Miller. How Shanahan comes up with his conclusion on this is mindboggling.

        There’s no question in my mind that Shanahan has set a new precedent here with how goalies can be hit when they are outside the crease.

        Considering the NHL is supposed to be concerned with player safety, rather strange indeed.

    • Carole, I am sure you prefer players like PK Suban. You know, wait til opposing players have their head down and knock them into next week, sucker punch players while they are in scrums and held by refs, laugh in the face of other players and fans, show boat and only fight guys if they are under 175 pounds, flop like he has been shot when he hears someone breathe…. Yup… Go habs.

      • Matt, Lucic sucker punched two people while they were engaged with others in the final few months of last season, so be careful with that analogy. Other than that, I agree that Subban is a diving fool, though a talented player. Too bad he wastes so much of it diving!

  6. I would have to agree that the play was wreckless and deserves attention to the fact that goaltenders should be respected. However calling Lucic a “cheep shot artist” is so far off I’ve lost the value of your comments. A guy that leads the team in goals really dosent fit the description. Hockey has contact in it – incidential or not, it’s a rough sport. Pickup golf if you want a “fair game” where 220 pound men can compete physically with 175 pounders. Sorry.

  7. @PhillipPark,
    If you watch the video again you can see that Lucic not only braced for the hit, but also stuck his leg out when colliding with a stationary Miller. Hockey is the fastest game on earth, but players almost always have total control of their edges and (if there head is up) can avoid collisions with only the slightest adjustment of their edges. Did Lucic ever break his stride or show he was off balance?

    @CJ – Your comment, “Miller racing ahead into Lucic’s path was not such a great career decision…” irks me. Does this mean that every time T.Thomas leaves the crease he is making a bad career decision? What does it say about a sport (or its fans) when players must choose between what is best for their team and what is best for their career? Shouldn’t they be the same? Should’t they be able to trust their opponents not to capitalize on “bad career decisions?” You criticize Mr. Kendell for his writing his opinions, but you are no better than he.

    @Blind Lucic Followers: This was clearly a penalty, the rules indicate as such. And the commissioner and video replay are in place to protect and discipline the players in this league – who clearly need it. Hockey is an amazing sport, it has speed, talent, grit, intelligence, and class. Why do we forfeit these things in the name of “entertainment?”

  8. Anthony Notaro says:

    Colin Campbell – Director of Hockey Operations – Do I need to say more? Bruins do whatever they want, whenever they want. All you need to do is look at the Chara hit against the Montreal player last year. The fact that Chara received nothing on that one was downright disgusting. Maybe things will change after someone gets killed. Then again, maybe not!

  9. Was the concussion from this hit or from later in the game when Tyler Seguin was dumped on top of miller and he clearly sustained a head impact?

  10. Was this hit a bit out of line, sure. Did Miller only get hurt because his helmet comes flying off and his head hits the ice as he is trying to give Lucic the slash of all slashes, well obviously. As for hockey fans in this original six city with some of the best college hockey locally in the country not knowing hockey, well your an idiot. Like any city(Steelers fans), when you have success, some fair weather fans will pay attention, and I agree, they do not know much. We have as much of a hockey tradition in this area as any area in our country does. Saying that we all do not know hockey makes you sound as stupid as you say we are.

  11. I could understand if the writer kept his criticism of Lucic to the incident in question, but his tone is so vitriolic that it makes me wonder if there isn’t some other ‘hatred’ of Lucic at work here. Perhaps a failed attempt for an autograph or some other, more personal, slight?

  12. huge Bs fan here, i would agree with a light suspension or none at all. lucic is not a cheap hit artist, is a bit of a neanderthal, but is still a hockey player. looked a whole lot worse than it really was due to the weight difference with these two guys. also, steve kendall needs to watch those fights that he listed over again, ill give the win to colton orr (even though i dont think lucic was hiding, simply thought the fight was over and orr is a nut job that wanted to tear lucics arms off) but the other two were clear draws. go Bs, keep the hits in the game, it is hockey after all.

  13. Really? Couldnt stop? didnt see him? You can tell you are Boston fans. Congrats on winning the cup and still not know a single thing about hockey

    • Says a fan from Pittsburgh.

    • You are responding to one person. NHL hockey was nonexistent for some 40 years in your city while the Bruins were already playing and winning hockey games. To say that this city, with great college teams and a long tradition in the NHL, as a whole knows nothing about hockey, is beyond hyperbole, its offensive. Kind of makes me think you do not know much about anything at all(not your city, just you).

    • Try skating as fast as you can and just coming to a complete delicate stop. I agree with a typical penalty but people are going apesh*t because he hit ran into a goalie. The goalie came out pretty damn far and got leveled by a big dude on the serious move. He should have either stayed closer to the crease and played it that way, or been better prepared for a hit.

  14. I see the Bruin cry baby’s are out in full force.Lucic is a Neanderthal like a lot of the Bruin players i guess there trying to emulate the broad street bullies of the 70s and they get away with it with the refs turning a blind eye.Good article Steve and you hit the nail on the head.

    • I am not saying the hit did not deserve a penalty. I just stated that the writer should get his facts straight before he bashes a player. Lucic got a two minute penalty because thats what it deserved. Maybe even a five minute major… but to suspend him is rediculous. Shanahan, as Neely, as Clarke, as Tocchet, as Corson etc etc… were all glorified for playing the way Lucic does today. It will be a shame to get EVEN that out of hockey. If you nay sayers can’t see the difference between a Cooke and a Lucic then I give up.

      PS The B’s are not trying to be the broad street bullies because they are the BIG BAD BRUINS!

  15. The only reason it doesn’t look like he was targeting the head was because miller stood up. The proof is in the tape and I hope to see 4 games for this.

    • I actually saw this live, not sure how many of you can say that. I saw all the replays. Was it a bit over the top checking the goalie, sure. But targeting the head? We know all about hits like that in Boston, and he most certainly was not targeting Miller’s head. If he was trying to hurt Miller, I think you would have seen him try a little harder and Miller would have felt it even more than he did.

  16. I agree 100% that goalies should be well protected, especially in and around their crease, but I do have to say that if the goalie decides to go out that far and persue the puck when a power forward like Lucic is barreling down the ice full speed then he’s going to have to know that there’s a risk for getting hit… and getting hit hard. I’m glad that the league is cracking down on some cheap shots, but I also get mad that people call certain hits “cheap” when in reality the player is flying full speed down the ice. How can you realistically stop yourself when another player makes a move at the last second directly in your path? You can’t… and therefore I say that although the hit was a hard one, I can’t totally put the blame on Lucic for not being able to put the brakes on.

  17. Ok seriously, am I supposed to take this writer seriously? He sounds like a whiney Habs fan. Name one small player lucic fought that he innitiated? Lucic is a first line player and a 30 goal scorer and you want him to fight Colton Orr, a goon from the AHL? Go give your head a shake buddy.

  18. And the job of any columnist is not to be a cheerleader for a team. That’s what team employees and broadcasters are for! I at least respect the opinion of those who feel Lucic did not purposely run Miller — even if I do not agree with it. However, these people who say Miller deserved it cannot be defended. That’s like saying any player deserves an injury when they are hit with a dirty hit because it’s hockey.

    • I never mentioned that you should be a cheerleader for the team – nor do I think you should defend Lucic. However, your article is so full or personal scathing that it fails as an editorial – it’s just spewing personal opinion for attention. If you can’t see that – then good luck to you.

      I’ll pay closer attention to the author of pieces on here from now on.

      Cheers.
      CJ

      • I’m going to try and back off my previous comment a bit. I understand where you are coming from, Steve – so I apologize for being a crass in my reply.

        I just think that an editorial can be more balanced. I also feel that there is something personal in your tone that takes away from an objective criticism of Lucic (particularly the girlfriend incident which no one seems to know what actually happened – nor does it have anything to do with hockey).

        I just don’t like the direction I’ve seen lately with the articles coming out about Boston since they’ve won the cup. It’s reminding me way too much of Montreal media which influences public opinion and coaching pressure way too much.

        I understand – it can’t be easy to write for a fan base that feels so passionate about their team and their franchise players. But keep writing.

        Cheers.
        CJ
        PS: Happy Monday…

        • Again, CJ, thanks for reading and commenting. I understand how emotional hockey is for players and fans, and I like to see people debating the issue, even if they are on the opposite side as me! I like how Lucic plays, generally, but these few incidents worry me about the direction he is taking. I guess playing on the edge as he does, sometimes there are going be be questionable incidents. The sucker punches bother me more than this hit does, as I don’t like how he hit players who were engaged with other players at the time — Ferrence and Horton do not need Lucic to rescue them from Meyer and Hedman for sure.

          I have taken your critique to heart and will examine my objectivity more closely in the future.

          Thanks again.

  19. I agree completely that Miller’s comments were out of line and Lucic is playing great hockey at this point, but neither of those take away from the fact that it as a dirty hit. A dirty hit is a dirty hit. I am asked to provide opinion here, and that is what has been done — provide opinion backed up with three incidents in less than a calendar year involving Lucic throwing a cheap shot. There is a fine line between playing on the edge and being dirty, and Lucic has crossed over. He can still be saved — send him the message that this type of play is not permitted.

  20. boll destroys lucic?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsRmKFbwG1o&feature=relmfu

    that’s a video of lucic dummying boll when milan was 19. please steve kendall, learn something, do some research, watch a game..highlights at least before spewing this nonsense you are so famous for spewing

  21. Steve,
    Perhaps you should consider writing for another team. You’ve had it in for Lucic since the season started – we get it – you don’t like him.

    You have a knack for creating good turns of phrase and are obviously determined to continue in a career as a writer – however, this isn’t journalism – nor was that ridiculous article you wrote about trading Lucic a couple of weeks ago.

    I live in Montreal where the hockey “journalists” make a career out of ridiculing and trying to be sensationalist. No one takes them seriously – even hard-core Habs fans.

    I know the rules about hitting agoaltender, but it would have been at least interesting (and perhaps even objective “journalism”) to mention Miller racing ahead into Lucic’s path was not such a great career decision… You could have done so without laying blame on Miller – but at least have offered it as a discussion point. But you didn’t – because you hate Lucic. Again – we get it.

    Do yourself a favour and either write about another team or get off the I-hate-Lucic bandwagon and write about interesting hockey stories (in an objective manner). It’s embarrassing – all homer-ism aside – it’s embarrassing.

    Regards,
    CJ

  22. Lucic is just one of many on a team of cheap shot artists. The league is supposedly cracking down on this stuff, but when it’s their beloved Bruins…

  23. Where did all the men go?
    Even girls are getting fed up with The No Hit League.
    Lucic will unfortunately be suspended for the hit and made an example of. Good God, what’s next?

  24. First thing I said when I saw Lucic hit was “what a dirtbag move.” It could have been avoided for sure, but Lucic made a concious decision to hit Miller. To the people saying he targeted head, get out of here. You show me one video where he targets head and I’ll concede, I just don’t think it’s out there. But to say Lucic deserves a suspension is foolish. It’s an illegal hit, he served his two minutes that’s the end of it.

    Now, to say this is a dirty hit in just a long line of dirty hits in Lucic’s career is foolish. You reference two instances, one where Lucic was targeted in the head first and retaliated. Then to mention a mix-up with the Boston police and his girlfriend? It makes your entire argument foolish. What does that have anything to do with hockey? Shan-a-ban isn’t going to suspend someone because of their character off ice. If you’re just trying to make a name for yourself and stir up trouble with an article, at least sound intelligent. RUBBISH.

  25. As I recall jared boll was beaten in the fight, and the boulton fight was not a fight it was a little flip and as for the orr fight if you remeber his situation he came back from at least a month plus long absence and still took on orr. Also if you pay attention he’s scoring 30 plus goals there’s no need to fight any of those player.

  26. This article is bang on! For a very long time I have believed Milan Lucic has living a charmed life by avoiding suspension more than once. For fans like David O’Connor who believe that goalies are “fair game” the rules do not support your belief. Unless the rules regarding contact with a goalie are changed then hits like the one delivered by Lucic should get a second look from Brendan Shanahan. I believe that even if Miller was not injured that this is a suspendable hit. Lucid needs to be reigned in by Shanahan before he injures more star players with poor decisions like the one on Saturday night.

  27. I’m seeing a lot of words but all I’m reading from you is “waahhh, waaahhh, waaahhh”

  28. To Steve Kendall; Sir, after reviewing Milan Lucic’s hit on Ryan Miller on you tube, I think that when Miller came out to play the puck, he placed himself in harms way. Futhermore, if Lucic was a “dirty” player, he could have went through Miller. I feel that Lucic attempted to slow down and lessen his impact into Miller, and his injuries are a result of poor positioning in playing the puck in the face-off circle. Sincerely, Phil Park.

  29. Not sure why this is worthy of suspension. The rule you listed says penalty, which he got. On any other team, it would be the players defending Miller afterwards. He didn’t target the head either, if that is your excuse. Its cheap – yes, but not suspension worthy. Is a hook on purpose cheap? Yes. Doesn’t mean Alex Semin deserves a suspension either, since he has a history of them.

  30. I’m a big fan of Ryan Miller, but even I don’t think Lucic should be suspended for this. Miller needs to be fully aware that once he’s that far out of his crease, he’s fair game. Lucic has just as much of a right as Miller does to stand his ground. It’s unreasonable for Miller to think that he’s untouchable when he’s inside a faceoff circle and his comments after the game weren’t fair either. Calling Lucic “gutless” wasn’t necessary, because as much as I hate to say it, Miller really set himself up to get smacked.

  31. He’s playing the best hockey he’s ever played thus far in his career…

    keep him on the ice, please.

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