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Photo Credit: © Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Lucic talks disappointing season

After a nightmarish season, Milan Lucic faced the media Suday morning for the season exit interviews and answered questions about a tough year for both himself and the team. Let’s take a look.

In his second season with the Oilers, Lucic finished his year with only 10 goals and 24 assists which was his lowest output since scoring 27 points with the Boston Bruins back in 2007-2008. Needless to say, this is not the kind of production you need from a $6 million winger and the big fella was going to have some explaining to do.

When asked about his year, Lucic didn’t waste any time getting right to it.

“I don’t know what to say or make of my personal play after the Christmas break. Obviously, it’s unacceptable.

I have to admit that I was impressed that Looch’s opening statement was to take responsibility for his bad year and that he owned his horrible season. That doesn’t make things any better but I appreciated the honesty.

“This year, I felt like I let my teammates down in a lot of situations.”

I’m glad you consider the fans as teammates. What else?

“You look at the season as a whole and understand that it’s a team game and all that type of stuff, but, from a personal standpoint, (I’m) not happy or even proud with the way that I played.”

One thing I will say about Lucic is that it’s not like the guy got to the NHL after winning on a scratch ticket. Clearly, he is a very good hockey player but he also went through the worst stretch of his professional career, something that we all have to hope won’t happen again since we all know he’s coming back next year. For me, I wanted to know where he thought the wheels started to fall off.

“I’ve definitely never been in a rough patch like I have been since Christmas time.”

Christmas seems about right. Maybe Looch got wrapped up in the Christmas spirit and gave away all his offensive instincts!? Anyone? No? Alright.

“I’ve always found a way to come back even stronger and that’s basically where my head is at heading into the offseason.”

I wonder what this means exactly. I was really hoping someone was going to ask what he is going to do to come back stronger. I mean, the guy said, and I’ll get to it in a minute, that he came into this season in the best shape of his life so does that mean he going to be better than the best shape of his life? Is he going to hire Aquaman to teach him to be able to breathe underwater, thus improving his abilities on top of frozen water as well?

“There are definitely ways to bounce back but it’s all on me to do that, and I’m not giving up on myself or this team.”

First off, I’m glad Looch isn’t giving up on the team because they still owe him $30 million on that contract and that’s a lot of cake. I keed. This is also where Lucic mentioned guys like Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown having bounce-back years for Los Angeles and using it as motivation to get better. From where I blog, comparing yourself, in any way, to Anze Kopitar is probably not going to do a whole lot to make people feel better but I do actually like the Dustin Brown comparison. Brown hadn’t gone above 36 points in any of his last five seasons but came back hot this year with a very nice 61 point year. If Lucic can make something like that happen then I think we’ll all be thrilled.

In support of his comeback dreams, Lucic was on a decent clip before the Christmas break and it seems strange that the guy would fall off a cliff and forget how to play in a matter of weeks. I mean, I guess, it could definitely happen but it doesn’t seem likely that the NHL passed him buy since January, ya know? Maybe I’m just delusional? I’m trying to be positive here.

“Since Christmas time, I haven’t been playing with a lot of confidence. Regardless of whatever way the league is going, you need to have confidence in your mindset.”

MERRY CHRISTMAS HERE’S THE WORST STRETCH OF YOUR NHL CAREER! The only gift that would have been worse is if Santa had actually shimmied down the chimney just to shit under his tree. I mean, I can’t confirm that this didn’t happen but it seems like a reach.

One question I have is whether or not Lucic can make a comeback happen at this point in his career.

“I think I just need to find that (confidence) again because it’s not like I’m old. I turn 30 in two months from now and I feel like I still have a lot to give.”

As a guy that just turned 33 last week, I can confirm that being 30 is not old. That said, I’m a blogger that gets to wear sweatpants to work and not a pro-athlete that plays a physical game dominated by dudes in their 20s. Not to mention, we can’t pretend that Looch isn’t on the back-nine of his career here either.

“With me, it’s about trying to get with the times and adjusting to the way the league’s going.”

What kind of adjustment can he really make, though? Dude is a big guy and it’s not like he can just change his style of play like he’s changing his ginch. My point is, he can say what he wants, and I understand why he would, but I don’t know how much he can really change at this point.

“To be honest, when I came in this year, this was probably the best shape I’ve been in in the last four years.”

Yeah, but next year he will be in the better-best-bestest shape of his career — you’ll see. Frankly, I’m not buying the whole “Lucic needs to lose weight” angle that some people are running right now and expecting that to make a huge difference. Having him lose 10 pounds isn’t going to help him to not handle passes like a live grenade.

“Being lighter doesn’t necessarily mean faster.”

Exactly. There’s more to it, isn’t there?

“This year it was like you were almost second-guessing yourself. I think back to more than a few chances where I’ve had open nets and I’ve hit the post, missed the net or the shot was blocked. It feels like everything that could have gone wrong went wrong.”

I never thought I would do this but I completely agree with him. Anything that Lucic tried turned into a disaster and I can’t see that happening again next year… at least I hope not. The guy didn’t get any puck luck and you have to appreciate that this lack of success and finish probably compounded itself in his mind. That said, it’s not like he did much to help himself either because the guy disappeared for weeks at a time when he could have easily gone out and thrown down or something like that to get himself involved. Scoring slumps happen but to be a huge human and look invisible is not a great look.

THE WRAP…

I don’t want to spend much more time sewering Lucic’s season because his horrible play spoke enough for itself. As far as I’m concerned, everything he said here makes a lot of sense but in the words of DMX, talk his cheap, mother truckers. While I appreciated him saying all the right things, I really don’t care about words as much as I do about results on the ice. That said, I’m going to try my best to give the guy the benefit of the doubt and hope that he can come up with a comeback season because we don’t really have any other option. For as annoyed as I was with Lucic this season, it was blatantly obvious that he was even more upset by his own lack of success. All we can really hope is that all of the words that came out of his mouth yesterday can be translated into results on the ice starting in October.

LUCIC’S SEASON AND CAREER

Season GP G A P +/- PIM PPG PPP SHG SHP GWG OTG S S%
2017-18 82 10 24 34 -12 80 3 7 0 0 1 0 147 6.8
NHL Career 811 192 289 481 105 981 37 99 0 0 35 1 1,398 13.7


  • CMG30

    I don’t blame Lucic for having a bad year. I don’t blame Lucic for the contract he’s got. I blame Chirelli for being so desperate to throw money at a guy who helped him win a cup years ago in boston that he flushed away a game breaking player in Taylor Hall for a guy who’s is at or nearing his best before date.

      • tkfisher

        You didn’t have to be a genius to see that situation going badly. Case in point TSN and their laughable lot of talking heads didn’t speak highly on the GMs moves. The Larson trade was pretty much universally mocked throughout the league, media and on TV as being a lost trade. Then the Lucic contract was resoundingly labeled a huge risk from the moment it was signed, in that it was too much term for the player. Pretty much everyone except the GM saw those as poor moves long term.

      • 24% body fat

        this is always the stupidest remark. If you havent noticed Hockey has an old boys club and you need to be in it to get there. There are many jobs around the world where the best people dont always occupy the most in demand positions. This can be seen just in the oilers organization. There are plenty of people with the help of the right people around them that could be the GM. It is not the easiest job in the world, but everyone in the hockey universe other than the GM, the 3 or 4 media puppets, and the fans that would rather punch than play a skilled game that knew all his moves were garbage. Every other team and media group laughs at him for getting lucic and trading hall. Putting slow players around McDavid is just idiotic.

  • ziyan94

    In addition to losing some weight like he plans, I think he should work with a skills coach (like Adam Oates) to work on his reaction time, reflexes, stickhandling, and vision with the puck. Even if he keeps the same size and (lack of) speed, we will all appreciate him more like BM said if he shows he can be trusted with the puck in his own zone, and create some chemistry with Draisaitl who’s most likely to be his main centre next year.

  • The Future Never Comes

    Paying full price on diminishing returns is on the GM. Not playing well and being a detriment on the ice for the last half of the season is on Lucic.

  • GK1980

    I believe Lucic will rebound next year but man did this team lose it’s swagger this year. They need to play with way more of a grudge, that means digging in and having a forecheck that actually forechecks. They need to be much quicker and more aggressive on pucks…consistently.

    • nijames

      He was a decent player when the league needed tough hard nosed wingers, now its speed game and Lucic has never had foot speed. I am afraid the league has passed him by and the Oilers are stuck with a boat anchor contract. There was a reason that teams like LA would only opffer him 4 year deal at a lower number. I don’t blame Lucic for signing that deal, if iot was me O would get my name signed on that one just as fast as Milan did. I am sure he couldn’t believe his luck on a 7 year deal. Its just sad that he no longer has the speed or skill top play in the NHL.

      • Elasmus

        I’m just saying, speed and skill are 2 things that CAN be improved no matter who you are. You can teach and practice speed and skill. If Lucic will improve, I don’t know, I’m just saying that he definitely can if he wanted to and it would be really disappointing if he didn’t.

        • 24% body fat

          nope. Speed can be slightly improved to your potential. Once there it is physically impossible to do so. At 27s age and playing at in an elite level league you have most likely reached that potential, and if you didnt you most likely arent in the NHL.

          Always aquire skill, never worry about size. Look at tampa

          • Beer_League_Ringer

            Shallow interpretation of speed. Good play choices based on quick reads (angles, getting to the right position, not being on the wrong side of the play, etc…) and already knowing what the NEXT right move is can lessen the impact of foot speed issues. Players with below-average skating speed need to play harder and smarter. Lots of really good players are average-to-slow skaters. David Perron, James Neal… Come to think of it, several of VGK’s players aren’t the fleetest of foot. Do they look slow when they play? Not really.

  • RJ

    He seems like a decent guy, but he isn’t paid to be a decent guy, he’s paid to be a contributor.

    I brought this up in another thread, but let’s play the what if game?

    Instead of Lucic, they sign Demers. Then they don’t need to trade Hall for Larsson.

    The Oilers run out McDavid/Nuge and Hall/Drai with Demers helping to strengthen the RHD side.

    They still need to add some depth on the right hand side but the team is stronger just by substituting MVP candidate Hall versus Lucic who went through his worst year.

    • The Future Never Comes

      Buddy, the what if game is useless and a waste of everyone’s collective thought process. What if we got Malking/Crosby back in the draft? What if we got Babcock as our coach? What if McDonald’s started their franchise with hotdogs? What if you were shot to the moon where we didn’t have to read such useless questions? What if Jesus was Japanese? Who cares man.

    • TruthHurts98

      Demers sucks too and wanted way too much even for PC to bite. The what if that has destroyed this team’s upward trajectory was the Reinhart trade. Nothing coming back for what could have been Barzal (but most likely Svechnikov) and Carlo. PC lost every big move by a country mile. That’s why Boston canned him. Now the Bruins are a legit contender. The Oilers won’t be until they can him and hire someone who is good at his job as a GM.

  • puckle-head

    “Having him lose 10 pounds isn’t going to help him to not handle passes like a live grenade.” Good call. While Lucic did look slow out there, I’m more worried about the amount of plays that immediately died on his stick.

  • Finnaggled

    ” I really don’t care about words as much as I do about results on the ice”
    …..fairly amusing sentence given your career choice in…..writing. lol

  • Oilerchild77

    On the bright side, I think it’s highly unlikely he duplicates a career low shooting percentage of 6.8%. He’s bound to be better next year.

    However, if they think shaving more weight off in an effort to have him play more of a speed game will make him more effective, they’re setting him up for another bad season next year. He’s a power winger all the way and will not be effective if he tries to be something he’s not.

    • crabman

      The career low S% is the stat that gives me hope of a rebound for next year. It is almost exactly half his career average. What does worry me is over his career he has primarily been a 5×5 scorer. Last year he produced 50% of his points on the pp and had a well below career average 25 5×5 points. This year without the pp points his points took a nose dive but he actually scored 2 more points at evens, but again well below his career average. That makes 2 years in a row with subpar 5×5 scoring. That could be the beginning of a trend for him. I think it would be best to temper expectations of a big bounce back next year. I think the chance of him getting in the 40-45 point range a lot more reasonable than him ever getting back to his 55-60 point range of his prime.

      Weighing in at 236lb he could afford to trim down a bit and will probably help him be a bit quicker and not hurt his power game. That’s what Maroon did his 1st offseason with the Oilers and it really paid off for him the next year. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t also spend the summer working with a skills coach to help with the finer points of his game. I’m always surprised when it is talked about like it is an either or when it comes to off season training.

  • 50 Flex

    As the great Kenny Powers once said, “When you bring the thunder, sometimes you get lost in the storm.” I think this quote perfectly sums up Chiarelli’s time in Edmonton. Understandably, Chiarelli brought the thunder and shook up the roster to promote a new winning culture in Edmonton. As much as I dislike most of his moves, it had to be done. The fan base simply needed to know that new management wasn’t going to stick with previous status quo. The Oilers needed change, so they went and hired a previous Stanley Cup winning GM who wasn’t afraid to do that. Unfortunately, the Thunder Chia brought came with a 3rd season storm that can’t easily be weathered. There are a number of bad contracts and the future of this team is as uncertain as ever. Thunder storms are powerful, but short lived. That’s exactly how Chia constructed this team.

  • Total Points

    “This year, I felt like I let my teammates down in a lot of situations.”
    I thought as well that at least he could have mentioned that he let the fans down who pay his salary. I guess he is just all about himself

  • MrBung

    Another bad season hoping guys turn it around and another wasted season and more playoff misses. McDavid will get a lot of IIHF WHC title shots in his career as long as he is with the Chia led Oilers.

  • gordo

    i find it hard to believe that a guy with an income of 500,000 a month has confidence issues. i also find it hard to believe that the coaches and managers could not put him together again

  • Kneedroptalbot

    Milan Lucic had difficulty keeping up when he was in Los Angeles.
    Last year he came into camp the best shape of his life. He certainly hasn’t gotten any faster, he has difficulty taking or making a pass, he does not process the game very quickly.
    Once you can’t skate you don’t last very long in this league.

  • Gary

    S0 the best way to protest this ownership is with your wallet. I made a similar comment this morning and received the usual feedback from the Oiler PR employees that said, there will be 2 people on the season ticket waiting list that’ll buy your tickets. Well I call BS on that, first off there are 1000,s of empty seats at almost every game, secondly I could not give my tickets away, even to strangers at On The Rocks, most said that it is simply no fun going to the games, likely due to $11.50 Beers, lack of parking and the being to hard to take a leak after drinking $11.50 Beers.

    Oilers PR personal are hard at work on the blogs. I will keep my $14,000 next year and buy a few tickets off Stubhub and spend the reast traveling to US cities where the Oil are playing.

    • Kneedroptalbot

      Gary, well said. I agree with you comments 100%. I might add driving into EDM 2 hrs each way and huge lack of parking, then driving back home after a sub par effort. 7 hrs of entertainment?? No Thanks, until they (a new GM) make it fun again.

    • The Future Never Comes

      This is like the 20th time you mentioned having season tickets, which make me start to think you never had any and your a little kid in his moms basement pretending he has money to other people to seem like one of the coll kids.

  • Svart kaffe

    I don’t think it’s his weight, he’s in good shape and he’ll never be something else than a power forward. Neither he nor anyone else ought to kid themselves about that. He needs to be the best version of himself next season.

    But he needs to regain his confidence and I think a good way to do it is just get back to basics. Stickhandling, shooting, receiving passes, skating cones and so on. Take a break from the game, clear your head and build from the ground up. Focus on what made hockey fun in the first place.

  • Serious Gord

    I’m hoping he does turn things around but am more pessimistic now than I was at the season’s halfway point.

    He’s 30, he’s slow.

    He’s now had two seasons of very poor 5×5 play so that’s a very long trend.

    And mentally he has lost the fire and seems to be unable to keep up with the pace of play.

    And if he is going to continue to be a bust, the team is going to have several years with a huge hole blown in its salary cap at the worst possible time.

    Surely there are players on this team and their agents (and players we would like to attract) who see the implications of this.

    Sobering stuff to consider at the end of possibly the most disappointing season in franchise history.

    • dabears318

      while I don’t disagree with (most of) your comments, whenever I need to smile I just read a Serious Gord discussion. The Eeyore of Oilersnation. I think you’d manage to find the negative in any situation. What a morose skill, but a skill none the less. Bravo.

  • OilersBro

    Lucic is facing the same problem I faced as a young athlete. I see him race for pucks in open ice and he’s fairly competent at winning those battles. However, sometimes he looks like he’s lagging behind the play.
    That’s because he’s fast (for his size) but not quick.
    There’s a huge difference between someone who is a fast skater in a straight line and someone who can be explosive, get a quick first step, and change direction quickly.
    Essentially, I think Lucic is not out of shape (his body fat is likely the same as the league average) but just missing that quick explosive first step in his game. The nice thing is that watching McDavid and Nuge I realize that those two are some of the best in the league at that. Looks like I found looches training partners for the summer

  • Eriksson takes a lot of heat in Van, but nothing like the Lucic beat down in Edmonton. Lucic cold easily have been a Canuck. (Remember the bidding war)

    The problem Lucic has to overcome, is his game doesn’t suit the style Edmonton plays. Square peg, round hole.
    I don’t see this working out for either side. Trade him.

  • Snoop Scottie Dogg

    The oilers are a big, tough team that played a soft,slow game. They never used their size and strength to their advantage. Just like Looch; the team lacked aggression.

  • Dr. Merkwurdigliebe

    The Oilers’ success next year is going to depend a whole lot on if Lucic bounces back. That’s a whole lot of money to sink into a 36-point winger. Watching him play was excruciating. It’s tough not to feel that he may be washed up. Really pulling for him to get his game back next season.

  • Arfguy

    I get that as the season went on and the lack of goals and points started to weigh heavily, but honestly…lost confidence leads to lousy shot selections and poor passes. IMO, Lucic had trouble handling a pass or even making a pass. He had trouble skating and he had trouble playing against the boards.

    Someone get him to work on the basics. Hell, a players Joe Pavelski and Patric Hornqvist were selected lower in the draft and are older than Lucic and you wouldn’t know it from how they play. Neither of those players are all that fast, but they play smart. You don’t need blazing speed to get to the front of the net for a screen or a tip.

  • Big Nuggets

    Matt Hendricks still plays, is 38 yrs old and I assume was never a great skater, but it is always noted how he works on his edges every practice. I get the impression Lucic doesn’t know what kind of training will best serve him in the NHL. I hope he enlists an expert trainer this offseason. Adam Oates or otherwise