62
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Milan Lucic: “I’m excited to come back and have a ‘prove people wrong’ kind of mentality”

Milan Lucic jumped on the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast this morning for what turned out to be a very solid interview about his time in Boston, what it’s like to play for the Oilers, what went wrong last year, and how he plans on bouncing back for the upcoming season. As always, I’ve got the breakdown. 

It goes without saying that Milan Lucic has been the subject of all kinds of trade rumours and bounce back talk this summer, and after hearing from his agent and from almost every media outlet under the sun, it was finally time to hear from the man himself. So when I saw that he was going to be on Spittin Chiclets this week, I knew it was going to be good. Since these episodes are fairly long, there was a lot to get through and I tried to only pull the most interesting quotes out for the purpose of this article, but, if you’ve got the time, you should definitely listen to the whole thing because it’s worth the time.

One of the parts of the interview that I really dug was when Lucic started things off by talking about his climb into the NHL and whether or not he thought he would even make it in today’s era. I’m always interested in the journey to get places, and it was interesting to hear him look back at his early days.

“To be honest, if I was ten years younger and had to do it all over again, I don’t know if I would have even got a sniff or even been looked at. The reason I got on these teams because I could fight. Now in the OHL, I think it’s three fights and you’re suspended for a game.”

In his draft year, Lucic put up a 149 PIMS in 62 games with the Vancouver Giants which was far and away the most noticeable thing about that season for him.

“I had nine goals and ten assists (in my draft year). What team would take a kid with nine goals and ten assists?”

I had never thought about it before but Lucic’s draft year was really underwhelming, and it’s kind of a surprise that he went as high as he did after seeing the numbers. Looking back, the Bruins made a sizeable bet on a player that put up very little offence in his draft year but it paid off for them in a big way. In his draft +1 season, Lucic exploded for 30 goals and 38 assists which seemed like a rocket taking off as compared the season before.

After battling his way onto the Bruins lineup, Lucic talked about the moment when he found out he was going to stick around.

“It was like after game eight or nine and Peter (Chiarelli) brought me into his office and told me that I was staying for the year. No joke, not a word of a lie, the first thing I said was asking if I can I change my number. I felt like a linebacker out there. You’re (number) 62 and you look way bigger than you are and 17 made me look a little trimmer.”

From there, it was a looooooooot more Bruins talk so if you’re into that then you should definitely check it out, but I wanted to skip forward to the parts that Oilers fans would care a little bit more about. After the trip down memory lane was finished, Lucic asked about the transition of playing in LA to playing in Edmonton, and he started off with a problem that actually made me burst out laughing.

“It’s been a change, I’ll say that. I mean, (to Ryan Whitney) you know what it’s like to deal with the Edmonton winters. It’s not so much the snow or the coldness, for me it’s the darkness has the been the biggest and the dryness. I’ve never had to use so much lotion in my life before being in Edmonton.”

You know what, if oiling you up and making sure that skin of yours stays soft and in great shape is that important to you then I will volunteer to rub you down and make that happen. If getting you back to being the Milan Lucic that rode into town with swagger means that you need your old pal Baggedmilk to exfoliate your entire body and keep you silky smooth then you just say the word and I’m there. I will buy the finest of olive oils and massage them into your skin with purpose and passion, ensuring that you’re not only feeling your best but looking your best too. I promise that your pores will love it, and if that’s what it takes to get you firing on all cylinders again then I will happily volunteer as tribute.

“But, you know what? To be honest, it’s been great ever since I’ve been there. As you know Whitter, the organization treats you like gold.”

Was he being sarcastic with the Whitney part of the question because that dude has sewered the team more times than I can count? Regardless, if we can sort out these damned dry skin issues, Lucic had nothing but high praise for the organization and Rogers Place.

“The dressing room is second to none. You get anything you want.”

No way you guys are getting Bobby Nick’s Burgers WITH fries without handing over $45 — I refuse to believe it! Kidding. Sorry, I’m interrupting again. Go on.

“Anything you ask for they give it to you.”

Okay, okay you guys get Bobby Nick’s Burgers anytime you want. Quit bragging, would ya? I have to pay full price for those. But seriously, though, what else do you guys get?

“The food on the plane that we get, the hotels that we stay at, all that type of stuff, it’s truly unbelievable. I’ve been lucky that the three teams that I’ve played for have all been first class.”

Man, being a pro-athlete sounds awesome. I mean, I get free coffee and Red Bull which is big time ballin’ for a blogger but I can’t even imagine what the first class lifestyle of a professional hockey player is like. Curse my shitty genes. Anyway…

“I gotta say, the Oilers will literally do whatever you want and give you whatever you need in order to succeed.”

Honestly, that’s good to hear and I mean it. I like knowing that the Oilers are doing whatever it takes to make you guys happy and comfortable, but the next step is making sure that the succeeding part of the equation you talked about comes back sooner than later. But the big question that I think we all want to know is what changed from your first season in Edmonton to the second? And I don’t just mean for yourself but for the Oilers as a whole. Why did both you and the team look so much different than what we saw in the playoff run from 2017?

“My first year there you go in and I’m excited. I just signed a new deal as a UFA, get a chance to play with the best player in the world and, you know, we end up being one win away from going to the Western Conference Final.”

There’s no doubt that a LOT of things went wrong last year, but at the same point, a lot of things went right during the 2016-17 season so it’s a confusing time to be an Oilers fan. How did so much change in a relatively short amount of time?

“It was almost like too much came at us too fast last year with the Vegas odds pegging us as the second best team to win the Cup. So many guys came off a career year. So, there was just a lot of, it was almost like we were set up for failure.”

You know what, I buy that completely. I remember reading all the Vegas odds and Stanley Cup favourites talk and thinking that people should probably pump the brakes a little bit. True?

“There was so much expectation that it was like we were set up for failure and there was maybe too much expecting things to happen versus making them happen.”

Well, on the bright side, there are very few expectations being put on the team this year so I’m hoping that means everyone will come back in fighting shape with a chip on their shoulders, including the big man.

“I think a lot of guys are excited to come back. I know I’m excited to come back and go back and have that ‘prove people wrong’ kind of mentality and get back and be an elite team all over again and for myself personally be an elite player once again.”

Look, I’ve made fun of Lucic plenty on this website and on social media but I’m legitimately pulling for the guy to come roaring back to life and prove everybody wrong. Not only do the Oilers need Lucic to be the beast he can be (a well-lotioned beast, I might add) I think it would be a great comeback story that we would all get behind. I know that I would love for him to throw last season back in my face, and he could tell me how wrong I was every day as I was lotioning him up.

One thing many people have wondered, though, is if Lucic is too slow for the modern game. When asked about it, Lucic owned up to having a bad season but didn’t attribute the bad finish to his speed but rather what’s going on upstairs.

“I think it was definitely more of a mental thing. It was almost like everything that could have gone wrong went wrong for our team and for me personally, and it was the snowball effect or the quicksand effect. It was like the harder you tried, the more you sink into the quicksand.”

Specifically, I think of the posts and open nets that Lucic missed down the stretch where you know he would have buried them had he been playing with more confidence, and he admitted as much.

“For me, it’s about mentally having fun going to the rink again and mentally looking forward to the challenges we face as a team and as an athlete every single day. I think my mindset got very negative last year, so I was almost my own worst enemy. This year I’m just going in with a happy, healthier mindset”

I hope so, man. I hope the summer gave you the time to reset and charge your batteries because we’re going to need you to be contributing at a reasonable level if this ship is going to turn itself around.

“I think that (mindset) will help me get back to the player I am, and I think when you’re playing with the best player in the world, you know, it gives you a vote of confidence to try and step up and not let him down. I think we’re all feeling that and we all had fun in the 2016-17 season, so we want to get back to being that team and winning on a nightly basis.”

That’s a good headspace to be in, sir. But is there anything you will personally be doing to help get yourself and the team get back to where we want them to be?

“Getting into this year more focused on being mentally healthy and mentally happy and, like you said, I’m a proud person and I’ve been doing everything I can to make sure that I bounce back and be the best player I can be for Oilers this upcoming season.”

I hope so, Looch. Gord knows we need you.

THE WRAP…

Like I said in the intro, this was a great interview with Lucic about his journey to the NHL, what it was like to be a champion in Boston, how great the Oilers organization is, but I do wish that they had spent more time talking about the team itself. There was a lot of Bruins talk, which is completely understandable given that a couple of the hosts are Boston guys, but I was hoping to hear more about what happened and what will happen with the Oilers moving forward. That said, I thought Lucic came off really well in the interview and I appreciated the ownership he took when talking about his tough season. Obviously, we don’t know what the future will hold for Lucic and our beloved Oilers, but I do believe him when he says that he wants to make the changes needed to get himself back to being the player we coveted for years.

Personally, I was intrigued to listen to this podcast because Ryan Whitney and Paul Bissonnette do a great job of gettings guys to say things that maybe they shouldn’t, so I was wondering what would happen with Lucic but he was nothing but complimentary. The dude took a lot of heat last season and it was admirable that he still took the high road despite all the chatter that surrounded him this offseason. Though, I would love to know what the conversation sounded like when the microphones were turned off. Guessing games aside, I thought it was a solid interview and worth listening to if you have the time. For me, I’m going to hope that Lucic can execute on his plans to prove the haters wrong, and I will happily cheer him on if he does. In the meantime, I’ll be heading to the store to stock up on lotion.

What did you guys think?



  • Derian Hatcher

    Atta boy Looch. I’m confident that you will have a great season and be a big part of the team leaving last season in the dust. Just as an experiment on ON, let’s see how many positive / optimistic comments we can get before the Eeyores and chicken little’s arrive.

    • Van isl Oiler

      Lucic is going to have a much better season, the whole team is. I love his positive attitude and I hope it rubs off on eveyone. Attitude is everything, not just in sports, but every facet of life. How well would any of us perform or even sleep at night if we felt like a million people wanted to run us out of town on our next mistake? Lets pump up the Oilers tires and cheer them on. Happiness is wanting what you have and there is plenty about the Oilers to be happy about. Lets shine the spotlight on what is good and right about the Oilers and the rest of the team will surely gravitate towards that light. So pop some Zoloft and watch “The Secret” everynight until the season starts…whatever it takes ON.

    • Robin, you were on the circuit for a long time so the question is where does that stuff come from? Seravalli isn’t exactly the type to make things up, but like you said, Lucic doesn’t sound like a guy that’s miserable either.

      • If you are writing things about a team you aren’t around every day, you have to rely on sources for information. It’s tough enough to a get an accurate read on the personalities and relationships within the team even when you are there because you aren’t privy to everything. I don’t know who Frank talks to. Things have yet to play out here, so you can’t say he got a bad read on what’s happening, but even allowing that Lucic isn’t going to air any dirty laundry publicly, the situation here doesn’t strike me as it was described.

    • Dapper Dan 3099

      I totally agree Robin, TSN drives me nuts…. its always nothing but how the Leafs will be winning the cup, and about all the issues with the rest of the Canadian markets. Its become especially unbearable now that Tavares signed there.

  • Rebuild3.0

    bagged milk your embarrassing. looch is not going to rebound he is what he is and the oil need to trade him as fast as possible. nice try at positivity but just makes you look like an idiot

  • OriginalPouzar

    It was a long listen but a fantastic listen. The best parts of it, for me, was actually the stories and anecdotes about his junior and early pro career and time with Boston.

    Of course Milan was going to say that he is disappointed in his season last year and motivated to bounce back and, yes, I believe him when he says that. Him actually being able to bounce back is another thing completely and what is most important.

    If Milan can provide 40 points and not be a killer in transition (plays at the blue line and in the neutral zone), I will be satisfied. Even though he’s been very poor at even strength for the entirety of his Oiler career, I still think he can bounce back and produce decent numbers in the middle 6.

    I’m rooting for the big guy.

  • amethystrocks22

    I’m looking forward to Lucic coming back with a chip on his shoulder but by far my favourite part about this article was the upfront and forward thinking acknowledgment of homoerotic desire in hockey fandom.

  • bazmagoo

    I was sitting in row 2 behind the Canucks net for the last Oilers road game in Vancouver. Milan came out like a rocket, threw 3 huge hits on his first shift, last one caused a turnover which was feathered out to him in the slot. He whiffed on it big time, and that was it for him in the game. Didn’t notice him at all after that.

    It was definitely mental, he’ll be back stronger next season.

  • Oil_in_the_Desert

    Good piece – hoping Lucic gets time on PP. He can park in front of the net and help slow the game down a bit on the PP. One of the biggest issues Oil had last year was not being able to slow play down when they are a man up.

  • TKB2677

    Contract aside, I am pulling for Lucic. Like he said everything went wrong for the team. Guys got injured, guys got off to slow starts, their goalie was lousy basically from game 2 then their confidence dropped like a rock. For Lucic, the amount of posts and crossbars he hit during his slump were ridiculous. He’s missing by literally an inch or 2. If a couple of those go off the post and in, what would that have done for his confidence? I know his skating will never be the greatest but to even put the puck off the post or crossbar, you have to be getting to the spots in time to do that.

    So I think he will have a bounce back. He sure sounds like an extremely motivated guy who wants to stick it to everyone who said he was done. I hope and pray the whole team comes in and wants to show everyone ESPECIALLY their ridiculously negative fan base they don’t suck.

  • Muleman84

    I think the problem with Looch and for that matter Kassian, was they both didn’t play with as much passion, ie. Mean ass SOB’s, that they did in 2016-17. Seemed like they wanted to play like the skilled guys and not the Crazy that they should be bringing every night! What did we see last season with these 2, like 2-3 times they pushed the Crazy button? They NEED to do it on a nightly basis IMO!! Let’s start pushin teams around for once!! Then I think the points and wins will begin to come for these two and the team!!

    • TKB2677

      In order for aggressive players to play that way, they are going to take the odd penalty. But when your PK is setting records for being bad and your goalie isn’t stopping a lot of pucks, if you are an aggressive player, you are probably going to dial back the aggression to ensure you don’t take a penalty.

    • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

      And I think that ties directly into the Pk struggles. If you were playing for the team, knowing full well that the PK was garbage, would you go out and hit someone risking a penalty?

      I wouldn’t. With a better PK, I fully expect Kassian and Lucic to show the rest of th league what’s good.

  • Spoils

    Everybody knows Milan is over-priced and in today’s cap world that’s a real problem… At this point, we need him to deliver $4M worth of value. I see that as:

    – making our third line tough to contend with
    – powering the 2nd PP unit
    – being a fierce enforcer that beats down anybody that looks at McDavid.

    If he can do that, we’re OK for now. The length of the contract is scary.

  • “The reason I got on these teams is because I could fight”

    That says a lot. Lucic’s game last year did not suit today’s NHL and he pretty much said so. The missing part in the interview is what is Milan doing about it.
    Of course he’s gonna say good things about the organization that pays him $6M per year and every player talks about positive mindset and good intentions.

  • Chopwoodcarrywater

    Lucic-Leon-Puljujarvi. The size on that line would be very good, however if Lucic were to work on his skating, it make it an even better line. It wouldn’t be the best second line, but decent to say the least. When you think of a line with size, you automatically think they’re slow… thats not the case, Leon actually has pretty good speed(great for a 225 pound man), and Puljujarvi has pretty good size, but is also freaking fast. As delusional as this sounds, this could be a line that has decent skating overall(Lucic brings them down on this), but has very good size. I think this could be a physical line, while tough to move during offence

  • Ryan Jones Is Still My Hero

    I think the biggest takeaways for me from both Maroon and Lucic’s segments on Spittin Chiclets were the fact that they were so adamant that they loved the organization. Lucic said the stuff you transcribed above, and Maroon was gushing about how much he liked playing here. They both made reference to the fact that the team was legitimately overconfident heading into last season. Lucic toned it down a bit, but Maroon said that he thought the guys just straight up thought it was going to be easy, and they forgot what a dogfight they were in to even just get in to the playoffs in 2017. The playoff run kind of forced that out of a lot of the players’ memories, and the offseason pumping of their tires just made it worse.

    That just leads me to believe that this team is going to come back focused and ready to go from Game 1 this year. McDavid’s awards speech was an indicator that he was pissed, and I think he’s gonna have a whole team behind him that’s feeling the same way. They were a young team that will learn from the past and make a lot of big strides this year, in my optimistic opinion.

    • Ryan Jones Is Still My Hero

      If you go to Barstoolsports.com, there’s a drop down menu of podcasts at the top of the page and you can click on spittin chiclets from there to find it. Its also on Spotify if you search Spittin Chiclets

  • VK63

    Seravalli is brutal. The guy knows absolutely jack about room dynamics in general let alone the specifics attributed to one single team. The fact he can chuck out a term like untenable and have zero backing is indicative of what passes for integrity in sports journalism these days.
    The guy is a joke…. the fact some of the 1260 lads have him on their shows is indicative of a disconnect and tone deafness that this towns sports properties are beginning to excel in.
    Sadly.
    We quit advertising on there and have zero remorse about the decision. Tons of better options to get a bump and some name recognition. Most specifically, philanthropy, rather than endorse a bunch of arrogant jagoffs ie “personalities”.

    I find that Whit and Biznasty are good at pulling hot takes out of dummies but dudes that have a brain and have been around a while are far more guarded with the loose comments.

    • FISTO Siltanen

      Well said.

      I found this season to be impossible to listen to Toronto based media personalities with the exception of Elliote Friedman. Everyone else seemed to relish throwing dirt on the Oilers grave this season. Seravelli and his constant sniping about the lack of offseason changes the Oilers committed to in 2017 and how it bit them hard. Yet he was bullish on them winning the western conference? That awards night hachet jib after Hall and Barzal won awards was another one.

      Dreger digging up alleged dirt on Oilers nearly trading Hall for Ceci…a scoop he relished sharing two years later.

      I have zero time for them. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

  • Regarding long dark winters, short days, and body lotion: That’s his wife talking. I bet she had no idea of what to expect moving to Alberta. Think about it. The Lucic family moved from California to Edmonton. From endless summer, shorts and flip flops, beaches and palm trees, to Edmonton

    As much as improving his game, Milan’s family has to find a way to embrace Oil country.

    • Reg Dunlop

      Most psychiatric disorders are highly heritable. If the big guy is prone to seasonal affective disorder, the long nights of winter here are a serious matter.

  • Hockeytalkguy

    As much as Looch aggravated me & many others with his play, I wish him the best. What he does have going for him is that he is a proud man. I think he will earn his 6 million this year.

    • GK1980

      Agreed, of course he has to talk nice things to us but we all need to see results. This goes for the whole team. No playoffs next year is a huge failure, especially when you have a guy who could reach 120 points. Like come-on!

    • Serious Gord

      Baloney. Dec 21 in LA there is 10 hours of daylight. In Edmonton it’s 7 1/2.

      LA gets 33% more daylight. In addition the sun is much higher in the sky adding to the brightness.

      SAD is a real issue in these northern regions.

    • camdog

      My inlaws live near Barrie Ontario. They are shocked by the sun in the summer and darkness at Christmas. It’s a real thing. I don’t like Nov 15 – Jan 15 because of the darkness.

  • Heschultzhescores

    Some of us have never wavered on you, Looch. Let’s trying cheering our guys on through thick and thin and see if we can’t have a better season as fans too.

  • camdog

    Doesn’t sound like the same thing as Karlsson in Ottawa as Frank Servalli claimed not long ago. Sounds like the TSN reporters are not very good at their TMZ type reporting.

  • Frustrated Fan in Calgary

    Really good to hear the positive comments and outlook from Lucic. I thought that the contract was terrible at the time of signing, and still think it is, but I would love to be proven wrong.

  • smiliegirl15

    This is exactly what you want to hear from a player, especially being interviewed by someone as bitter about Edmonton as Ryan Whitney.
    Get a happy light Looch! They sell them at Costco and they’re not expensive. He should be here in the summer when the sun sets at 10pm. He’d have a new appreciation for our northern location. It’s the best!

  • Edmonton Eulers

    Wouldn’t real hockey fans read for unbiased opinions of people who have been in the industry for a long time? I personally think it’s nice to get a change up and get some unbiased opinions on the good and the bad. I still enjoy the content written by the Oiler fans, but it’s nice to have a mix of opinions and that’s what’s going to grow Oilersnation.