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.
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