Lucic: A new attitude is needed

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The Oilers step on the ice at 10 a.m this morning and their 37th NHL season will begin. You might say the season doesn’t begin until October 12th, but veteran Milan Lucic believes if things are finally going to change in Edmonton then their season actually began yesterday at medicals.

Lucic was very excited yesterday. He had a huge grin on his face discussing the new arena, Connor McDavid and his teammates, but he was also clear in what he feels needs to change for this team to improve.

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Every year for the past six or seven seasons hope springs eternal on the first day of camp. Every player, just like fans, is happy, excited and positive about the season. We’ve heard the same lines. “I like our team.” “We have improved.” But once the season starts the actions don’t match the words.

Lucic has played on winning teams. He’s won a Cup. I asked him how he thinks this team can finally go from a group that loses to one who is competitive.

“You have to get rid of that here we go again attitude. You talk about the good teams. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of some good teams, and teams who had good seasons. When you get into a two or three game losing streak, you cut it off there. You make sure you don’t lose the third one. You have to build some consistency within the season.

“I think it starts with building an identity. This is a team that hasn’t really had an identity of the past couple of years. I think that is the first thing we need to establish. You have the right coach, the right GM and the right superstar to lead the way, and it is about everyone having the right attitude and mindset in order for that to come together.

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“Having that ‘Oh here we go again’ attitude is something that needs, that negativity needs to find it’s way out of player’s minds and out of the dressing room. You have to be looking forward to the next day no matter what happened the day before. Have fun working hard, playing hard with each other and practising hard. It doesn’t happen overnight, but you have to do that with the right type of attitude and mindset and it starts here today,” said Lucic.

BEING A LEADER

LucicInterview

Lucic adds a different feel to the team. He will be a vocal leader who plays a significant role on the ice. The Oilers haven’t had that for many seasons. Many of their top minute eaters were not vocal leaders. It wasn’t in their DNA, but Lucic is comfortable being a leader on and off the ice.

But he is coming to a new team. I asked him how he approaches coming to a new team where many are expecting him to be the vocal leader and someone who challenges players when necessary.

“As a new guy coming in, I guess there is a bit of a feeling out process, but after a couple of weeks you go back to being yourself and how you are among the group and the team. I think it is always good and healthy to have that challenge and inner competition amongst the team. Trying to outplay guys in practice, battling hard in practice, those types of habits you when you create them there (practice) they become second nature in the game.

“When you practice hard with guys, and go through the trenches, you start building that trust and they will start having your back and things start to flow in the right direction. It is always nice to have those challenges and to be able to challenge yourself and challenge others as far as the team goes.

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“Obviously everyone wants to do their best stat-wise. I’m not going to lie, I like to do well and contribute as much as I can stat wise, but at the end of the day challenging each other to do what is best for the team and do the little things that will get you the wins. Once you install that in the group you will start going in the right direction,” said Lucic.

This group desperately needed a vocal leader  who will play in key situations like Lucic. He is a proven veteran and a difference maker. Every since the schedule came out I’ve discussed the importance of a good start. The Oilers can’t afford a mediocre October. Lucic mentioned a good start, and he was already hammering home how the team’s attitude and approach has to change from day one of training camp.

It is something I will watch closely during the preseason. Will we see more players committed to making the small plays, or tough plays, to help the team win.

Recently by Jason Gregor:    

Questions on defence: Part three
Questions on defence: Part two
Hendricks: “We need to be a confident group”
Questions on defence: Part one

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Thursday Thoughts: Line combos


  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I think we need a Pronger like leader. A guy that didn’t want the letter, but proved you don’t need a C on your chest to lead.

    I hope Lucic can be that guy, but at the same time I hope he doesn’t worry about being that guy.

    Have had too many guys on this team in the past that try too hard to be something. Lucic is a perfect example of a guy that needs to come here and do what has made him successful. Don’t worry about what the team has lacked and just play your game. Because the way he played is why we signed him. Just hope there isn’t an over thinking again.

    • Jason Gregor

      I think you might be over thinking it. He said “in a few weeks you settle in and become who you are.”

      Lucic has never worn a “C” but was always a leader. Players don’t need the C to be a vocal leader.

      We have discussed this often. Way too much focus gets put on who wears the C. When Gretzky had it, Messier was the vocal leader. Gretzky led with his work ethic in practice and in games.

      Lucic will not try to be someone he isn’t, and I can’t think of one player who the Oilers brought in who had Lucic’s resume and reputation. None of the previous UFAs in the last six seasons were top minute eaters and considered leaders on their teams.

      Sekera came in and was who he was before. A solid defender. He was never a big vocal guy and wasn’t here.

      I wouldn’t be worried about Lucic trying to do too much and go out of his comfort zone.

  • S cottV

    We gained Lucic who is engaged and leading the charge from the medicals forward.

    We lost Hall – who is still whining about being traded.

    Its progress…..

    • Dinojr

      Couldn’t agree more.

      If anything this Hall trade was about an identity change and just like that we look brand new. If this doesn’t fix it I don’t know what will.

      • JimmyV1965

        Can’t stand knuckle dragging garbage like this. Hall absolutely hated losing and was set up to fail by the people running the team. Sucks that he’s gone as the team appears to be turning the corner.

    • TKB2677

      I couldn’t agree more. I was a Hall guy, I have his jersey in my closet right now but I am really getting disenchanted with him and all the whining about being traded, 3 months later.

      I watched a clip from P.K Subban this morning and he was talking about starting a new chapter, new team, new City, excited for the new season, new teammates. If ever there is a guy that should still be bitter, it’s Subban. That guy had his name dragged through the mud.

      Then you have Hall who the only really negative about him was many people saying the return for Hall wasn’t close. Hall sounded like a guy that just saw his ex. gf at a bar making out with her new guy. So he goes off to the corner to get black out drunk while talking about how she was the best thing ever. When the Oilers have their home opener and it’s broadcast over the entire network because Bettman and company will probably be there, is he going to slink into a ball in the corner? When the Oilers do the heritage classic in October and it’s broadcast over the whole network, is he going to kick holes in the wall because what are the odds the Devils do one anytime soon? Who wants to see “Devils legends” Ken Danako, Bobby Holik trapping it up and blocking shots.

      So maybe the trade for Hall was partly about getting that dman but also partly about getting his personality out of the dressing room. Hall was a really good player who got the raw deal of being on a lousy team. All he did was lose and I have to think that ate away at him a lot. Hell, I am just a fan and I hated it. But given that he is sooo emotional, perhaps it affected the team way more than just the losing. We all saw for years that when Hall was happy and going, the team was going. When all was mad or sulking, they slumped. So maybe getting him out of the dressing room even though he’s a great player was needed.

      I love the fact that Lucic has come in vocal. I love the fact that Lucic has been calling everything as it is.
      This team has been easy to play against. This team has lacked swagger. This team has a “oh no not again attitude”.
      I love the fact that Lucic identified that right away and said “No more and I plan on being one of the guys to change that.”

      Hell freaking yes!! I wish somebody like Hall, Nuge, Eberle, even Yak had of said that years ago. Instead of coming out every year talking about wanting to be better, playing the system, blah blah blah. It’s refreshing to hear a guy come right out and say exactly what we all know are the problems.

      • JimmyV1965

        Ya. You sound like a real diehard Hall supporter. It also sounds like you’re blaming the kids for not showing enough leadership. You do realize these kids were teenagers when they came here. They weren’t leading crap. It was up to mngt to bring in leaders. I’m just glad it finally happened six years later. This will be last response to Hall haters who suddenly think he sucks.

        • A-Mc

          “…like you’re blaming the kids for not showing enough leadership. You do realize these kids were teenagers when they came here. They weren’t leading crap.”

          And yet we’re likely going to see a 19 year old named Captain, but no one is going to use his age as a crutch should things not work out as anticipated.

    • Jay (not J)

      If I were a Jersey fan, I would be a little miffed to hear Hall still going on about his old team. It’s time for him to move on – at least publicly. Hopefully this week being in a red and black uniform will help him close the book.
      Everything out of Lucic’s mouth since the signing has been exactly what fans want to hear. If this guy can follow through on the ice – and there is not reason to believe that he can’t (let’s shelve the ‘last 2 years of his deal at 6M conversation’ for the next 3 years)it will get easier and easier to forget ol’ Taylor Whatshisname.

      • TKB2677

        What about Hall’s teammates? Hall was brought in to be “the guy” on your team as in their best player which he is and he’s still going on about his old team and how disappointed he is to not be an Oiler.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    I always felt Messier was just as important to the 80’s as was Gretzky. I remember one time hearing an interview from on of the Oilers who “Took the night off” in a game. He stated after the loss that Messier sat in his locker and just glared at him for about a minute. He said he new that Messier was hanging the loss on him and that he deserved it. He stated it changed his whole Career. If Lucic can be that guy we will turn the corner.

  • madjam

    As teacher , protector and mentor Milan should have a banner season playing with McDavid , and quite possibly Puljujarvi getting them going in right direction .

    • McRaj

      I agree that Puju would look real good on a line with Connor. Run Nuge with Pouliot and Ebs, and Drai with Maroon and Yak. Versteg can play either wing so he can be a huge addition, and maybe result in a player like Pouliot being traded to fill some other holes.

      If PC does make a trade, I think he will make it for a player who is expansion draft ineligible. Because Drai, Nuge, Ebs, Lucic, Klef, Sekera, Larson, and Davidson are the 8 who will be protected.

      • Beaumatters

        I don’t think you worry about draft eligible players this year. If you can add a good RHD who is draft eligible, fills a void and makes this team better this year, you do it. Worry about which one you protect at the end of the year. If you don’t protect Davidson, then that would mean the RHD is more important to the organization, plus the defence ratio would be better. You are going to lose someone and it might not be Davidson anyway. I would be more worried about Laurent Brossoit.

        • CLubhouse

          Totally agree focus needs to be on this year and performing playing meaningful games till the very last of the regular season in Mcdavids ELC and prob first year wearing the C.

          My bet is that its Reinhart that gets grabbed in expansion draft.

      • @Hallsy4

        I don’t mind your combos. I’d change versteeg out for yak I think though…. don’t know where yak fits but hopefully he comes in and turns heads! I think we forget sometimes (I sure do) how young he is… could still turn out to be very good,maybe here or maybe elsewhere. I also don’t mind Maroon McD and Ebs as a line. Lots of potential combos to work this year which is nice!

      • pkam

        Don’t get too tied up with the expansion draft. If Davidson is in the protection list now but is not by the time of the draft, it means we don’t have 8 players who are better than him now but we do by the time of the draft. There is nothing wrong with it. In fact, this is what we should hope for. I love Davidson but if we lose him because the team is getting better, so be it.

  • hags437

    Listening to Lucic makes me realize how important that Hall trade was. We lost high end skill in that trade no doubt. But the group that was here the last 4-5 years did not have the benefit of a leader like Lucic. Attitude and identity are huge in my opinion. Players that seem to accept losing or putting in a had arsed shift won’t be given a free pass anymore. That is a very good thing. Oh and by the way, put the C is for Connor because you can tell he’s singing from the same songbook as Lucic. As Gregor says, it’s the same every training camp..excited for the season, we’ve improved, great bunch of guys etc etc. This does feel different however. There’s legitamate optimism for me anyhow that the team can take a big step.

  • Spydyr

    There were a couple lazy players on the Oilers last season. I hope Lucic’s influence helps to change that mindset.

    Skate hard both ways, go to the front of the net and fight hard for the the puck on the boards Mr. Eberle.

  • Silver Streak

    Hey Jason, Now that the medicals are finished, Im wondering when the club will release the new heights and weights…..really curious as to how much new muscle our kids have put on over the last 6 months.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    My favourite player is Chris Pronger. What set him apart for me was the start of the ’06 playoffs and what he said. All the vets were asked some pre-playoff questions and one was “what will be a successful playoff?” Long term Oilers like Smyth and Moreau and Smith talked about winning a game or two. Maybe a round. Seeing how far they could go.

    Pronger was the ONLY one who said anything short of the Cup is a failure.

    Loved that attitude then and think we finally have some of that mpxy back with Lucic.

  • Am I right?

    Last year, a few games in after we got him, Pat Maroon called out the players for being soft to play against. A few games after that, Maroon scores twice, but no high fives, no congrats, he was left alone and ignored. That’s when I thought something was very wrong in Oilersville. So, good luck with this bunch Looch, maybe it was the messenger or how he presented it that got rejected, not the message itself.

    • FISTO Siltanen

      A number of former new additions have followed that blueprint. I recall Ryan Whitney talking like a captain 20 games into his career here.

      Hoping that Maroon and anyone else who has tried to show some leadership finally has some followers to their cause.

      I’m interested in seeing what the comments on this board about Hall will be like 10 months from now.

    • Beaumatters

      You need to change your handle. Not sure what you were watching / reading, but Maroon fit in like a glove here. Was more than appreciated by the players and seemed to add atmosphere to the room. That Gretzky, Messier, McDavid clip was awesome. If I were you, I would worry more about the team you support and less about the one up north..

      • Am I right?

        Clearly you don’t understand what a question mark means. Didn’t say he was an outcast from the get go, only after his televised interview between periods, maybe that’s when you left to make your Shirley Temple and missed it. Geography not your strong suit either, there is no team to cheer for north of here. Don’t know what makes one fan seem to think they know more than anyone else, but you’ve surely (or is that Shirley) got the disease, sadly.

        And Beau, no matter what anyone says, you DO matter.

        • Beaumatters

          Sorry, I confused you with a troll. As for the rest? Tough day, no dog to kick? Maybe once you come off your high horse and take some of your worldly advice, we could chat. But then again, maybe not.

          And “Am I Right?????”……no matter what anyone says,.,,,,NO, you are NOT.

          Have a nice day AC.

  • RyanCoke

    I wonder how different this team would be if we had lucic earlier. Or sign jagr when he was a free agent. Would hall be the whiny kid he is today or would he be a more mature superstar who learned from one of the greatest players of all time in jagr. Or if he had lucic keeping him in line would he be that same player. I always felt we needed someone the kids looked up to not the veterans being dazzled by these kids.

    • BobbyCanuck

      I fully agree, if we had had those types starting in around 2007 the last 8 odd years we may have been winners.

      Had we had competent management back then, we would seen the play-offs. possibly made a deep run, or heaven forbid, even could have won a Cup

      So, what would be better, play off taste(s) over the last 10 yrs, or no McDavid, RNH, Dria, or our latest Pujji?

      I guess we will have to wait a couple of years to see what would have been better

      • RyanCoke

        I would have preferred if rebuild 1.0 worked. Means we would be in the playoffs the last 6 years and competing for a cup. I think that would be better than finally getting it now. Also right now is still no guarantee great things will happen. All we have is hope and that is the very thing we have had for 6 years until they prove otherwise.

  • Morgo_82

    The more I see about the comments Lucic makes the more I’m loving that he’s now an Oiler, this man will be a force to be reckoned with. He’s skyrocketing up my list of favourite players.

  • Oiler Al

    Trash me to the “9”,s, but personally I think Lucic should be the captain of this team.Yes, McDavid is the star player etc. etc, etc., but to me he seems too
    inhibited to be the “voice in the room”. Why? Because he is still a kid. Him scooting down the wing at at a hundred miles an hour [ala Hall ] on solo sorties is not going to turn this team mentality around.

    Nice mature kid, but to me it seems he’s not having fun out there.Always looks moody and up tight.Maybe it’s just in the media or trying to be ultra kool or just plain shy.

  • @Hallsy4

    Even a Lucic Drai Puju line could dominate. Then Maroon McD Ebs. Leaving Pou Nuge Versteeg as a third line which is pretty impressive!! Like how the forwards are looking

    • tileguy

      I am very much on side with that lineup as Maroon showed plenty of chemistry with 97 last year. If it is still there ths year I find it hard to beleive Lucic could add more to that line and Luc, Drai and Puj could (maybe, hopefully) be a real second force.

  • OilCan2

    Lucic has said all the right things and I think he will be a force on the ice.

    As far as turning around the attitude issue I believe it has already turned. There will be no freebee jobs available on the Oilers this season and everyone knows it. Looking around the summer pass times it seems everyone is working out hard to be in the best shape ever for camp. New found depth is lurking in every position and there is a line up for free agents, college guys and veteran PTOs to get into an Oiler jersey.

    Sure I drink Oiler Kool Aid every summer but this year it’s been spiked.

  • A-Mc

    Hopes are high.. hopefully this year is the year we finally move in the right direction. I am not dead set on any final result, i just want to see ACTUAL improvement in the standings (Not this “Visually Better” crap).

    #GOilers

  • Muddy

    For just one moment forget about the length and cost of his contract and bask in the fact that for a few years we get to enjoy his enthusiasm, work ethic and beyond all his toughness. In a short time period the Oilers have gone form being the “easiest” team to play against to one of the toughest with the likes of Lucic, Maroon and Kassian. Does this make us an instant contender? No but it make us a lot more tough to play against to the likes of Anaheim, LA and Chicago.

    I think having these guys allows our really skilled players the ability to focus on what they do best, scoring. In the past they had to focus on making it off the ice in one piece.

    Come on Oct 12th!

  • This “Hall won’t stop whining” narrative is stupid.

    The guy gets hounded constantly to answer questions about the trade and when he cracks and says sure he still feels a bit of resentment at the trade everyone leaps to the attack. It’s absurd.

    Why don’t you all tell us more about how Kevin Low did such evil to the city of Edmonton and how MacTavish should be strung up for signing Nikitin and how Horcoff blotted out the sun with his very presence but people should definitely get over the Hall trade pronto because despite crying about every transaction to occur for the past 20 years this one recent transaction should never be mentioned again.

    • pkam

      I watched a video on TSN in late August interviewing Hall, and of course they ask Hall the same old question. And I remember Hall’s answer was something like ‘Yes, it hurt for the 1st 2 weeks. Then I started to get over it. Now I have turned the page and looked forward to the new season as a Devil.’.

      The fact is Hall has stopped whining for a long time but the fans here haven’t. If Hall didn’t feel hurt, they will be whining that Hall has never been a true Oilers, etc. Just show how classy these fans are, and wonder who is the true whiner.

    • OilBlood

      I agree on one point and that’s your last one. That transaction should never be mentioned again.

      Good riddance to that cancer hall.

      Welcome to the cure Looch and finally, hopefully a team mentality where everyone is focused on what’s best for the team, playing for each other, the crest on the front, not the name on the back.

      Sweet baby McJesus how wonderful it’ll be to no longer see Hall crossing the blue line and wristing a shot into the goalies bread basket to up his corsi.

      Thank you Pete thank you.

    • Reg Dunlop

      I must agree, Hallsy is simply answering questions posed to him, he isn’t whining. You, on the other hand, snivel constantly about any criticism of #4. What you need is some tomato soup with goldfish crackers. Where’s Mommy?

  • Derzie

    When the Flames made Giordano the captain, the team completely changed. They identified with Gio as the prototype for where they needed to go. Unrelenting hard work and a strong desire to win. In my opinion that has been the number one problem with the Oilers. Putting C’s on guys for reasons other than ‘this is what our team is all about’. Lucic & McDavid represent an identity that can win. Skill & will to win. Break the ‘here we go again’ or the ‘woe is me’ cycle. Lucic calling it out is a really good thing for Oilers fans.

  • Been pretty impressed so far with Lucic’s attitude and talking points. He really comes off a guy that understand what it takes to win, and as a player and teammate knows how to implement that. It’s so much more refreshing than hearing from guys who say they want to win or need to start winning, but sound like they have no idea what that means or how to accomplish it.

    Fortunately, I don’t think he’s alone in promoting his message. Hendricks, Versteeg, Gryba, Kassian, Maroon, McDavid, Draisaitl, Nurse, Klefbom, Larsson, Davidson, and even Nuge I think will all be on board with the hard work and dedication it’ll take. Looking forward to it.

  • To start this season with Maroon, Kassian, AND Lucic, that changes every other team’s perception of the Oilers right there.

    But I’m sure it also changes the team’s self-perception as well.

    Practicing with these guys could be pretty tough. Young defenders will grow thicker skin, and other young forwards will see what kind of pressure they exert on the other team’s defense.

    I mention these obvious and simple things as if they are game changers, when every other team has enough balance in their rosters to begin with, and this is nothing special. It’s just that in Edmonton, this is pretty new and very welcome.