On Tuesday night, TD Garden will be the site of a Black and Gold reunion.
The Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings will face off for the first time this season on Causeway Street. Former Bruin Milan Lucic will make his first appearance back in the town where he evolved into his current role as a bruising power forward. In his 566 games with Boston, Lucic scored 139 goals and 342 points while racking up 772 penalty minutes and endearing himself to Bruins Nation with his physicality and fisticuffs. He was also a decent goal scorer, leading the club in goals between 2007-2015 and posting three seasons of 20-plus goals.
A draft day trade to LA marked the end of an eight-year odyssey for the 6’3 winger. It was a bitter pill for Boston fans to swallow, seeing a homegrown talent rise to prominence and reach the NHL summit with a Stanley Cup championship in 2011.
For one night, Bruins Nation will have the opportunity to reminiscence about the great memories and moments of Lucic’s tenure. Here are five of the best ones that fans will want to relive over and over again.
First Fight On Garden Ice
Boston’s home opener in 2007 came against the Tampa Bay Lightning after a five-game road trip. Lucic had already recorded his first goal and point while engaging in two bouts with Dallas’ Brad Winchester and LA’s Raitis Ivanans.
Early in the game, he wasted no time dropping the gloves with Bolts enforcer Nick Tarnasky. Even though it was a short altercation, it was a mere preview for what Bruins fans would see for the next eight years. He took to his surroundings like a fish to water and put the hurt on Tarnasky, sending the Garden crowd into delirium.
The Mike Komisarek Rivalry
Lucic and defenseman Mike Komisarek had an ongoing feud that spanned the better part of four years.
It began while the bulky blue liner was with the Montreal Canadiens in 2008. In their tilt on November 13, the Bruins were up 5-1 on the Habs in the middle of the third period. Komisarek and Lucic decided there was no better time to settle their ongoing beef with each other. Not for the first time, the forward gave his defensive combatant a beatdown he wouldn’t soon forget.
In 2012, the two would tangle again when Komisarek went to Toronto. He wanted to dance with Lucic after ignoring the linesman’s best efforts to keep the two separated after an offside call. Komisarek would live to regret that decision as “Looch” would go on to deliver another pounding.
In Game 1 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, Vancouver Canucks agitator Alex Burrows allegedly took a bite of Patrice Bergeron’s fingers in a scrum behind the net. The NHL decided not to punish the ‘Nucks forward for his actions and eventually burned the Bruins with an overtime goal a few nights later to give Vancouver a commanding 2-0 series lead.
In Game 3, with the Bruins up big in the third period, Lucic decided to give Burrows a taste of his own medicine. After giving the Canucks’s number-14 a couple of shots to the face, the Vancouver-born forward wanted to see if Burrows was hungry again, taunting him by putting two fingers right near his mouth. It was a defining moment in the series as Boston showed their bite and hunger, winning four of the last five games to taste victory.
Boston and Montreal have a long playoff history. However, after Game 7 of their second-round series in 2014, attention was drawn to a simple exchange between Lucic and Canadiens pest Dale Wiese.
The Habs sprung an upset over the President’s Trophy winners to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals, which didn’t sit well with anyone who dons the Black and Gold. Lucic and Wiese, who had a growing disdain for each other as the series wore on, met at center ice during the customary handshake line.
However, there weren’t very many pleasantries exchanged as the big forward told Wiese that he was going to “F****** kill him.” Some of that may have been emotion talking but it was a clear sign that Lucic started to lose control of his emotions against one of Boston’s bitter rivals. It also hampered his on-ice performance the following season, as he openly admitted after the 2014-15 campaign ended, saying:
“At the start [of this season] I was overly conscious about [playing with an edge] because there was a lot being said about me with how last year ended. It was hard on me at the start…I need to find that physicality, that presence and that force that I’m known to bring. When I talk about healing mentally, I think that’s the biggest area where I need it.”
Two months later, he was traded. Coincidence?
Hoisting The Cup
However, his greatest memory should be his role in bringing the Cup home to Boston for the first time since 1972.
The breakaway goal to seal a sweep of Philadelphia in Game 4 of the second round, the assist on Nathan Horton’s series-winner against Tampa in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals and his quick strike goal in Game 6 of the Cup Finals to send the Bruins on their way are just some of memorable highlights during the fairy tale ride for Lucic. It culminated in being able to hoist the Cup in Vancouver; the place where he grew up and played for the hometown Giants of the WHL.
That year, it came full circle. The place where he began his NHL journey as a second-round draft pick in 2006 was also the place where he was able to celebrate his biggest achievement to date as a player.
It was a script only Hollywood could ever write.
Joe is a writer covering the Boston Bruins. He is a lifelong native of Massachusetts and is currently a content writer/manager for a newsletter at a Human Services Agency. Joe can be found on Twitter: @JoeCherryTHW