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.
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?