Considering the season the big man had in 2017-18, it’s not overly surprising that some hockey folks have doubts that he’ll be able to rebound and get himself back to playing at the level we need from him, but I’m not ready to write Looch off just yet. With the 2018-19 season just around the corner, I thought that now would be a great time to sit down and pen an open letter to Milan Lucic to support him as he looks to get himself back to being a terrorizing force that we need him to be. If the Oilers are going to get themselves back into the dance come April, they’re going to need Lucic to be at his best and contributing be it on the scoresheet or with body checks and fist kisses. With that in mind, I just know that a few kind words from his ol’ pal Baggedmilk are probably just what the doctor ordered.
I know there are a lot of people out there hatin’ but that ain’t me, babe. Sure, I made fun of you plenty over the last 12 months or so for being hockey’s equivalent of Bowser from Mariokart, but I didn’t really mean it — they were only jokes* — and I’m ready to look past everything that happened if you are. I mean, let’s be real here for a minute… you were 50 shades of shitacular in the back half of last season and I think even you would admit that, so I feel like we should be able to be mature here and find a way to acknowledge that and then move past our differences.
And listen, just because I’ve made several dozen jokes at your expense doesn’t mean I’m anti-Looch — far from it. The other day, I was actually thinking about how fired up I was the day you signed here after years spent pining away for a player of your abilities, especially after watching the way you tore things up in Boston. We even tried to turn Jean-Francois Jacques into you and it didn’t work at all, ya know? Remember the Broonz? Of course you do. You won the Cup there, and that’s another big part of the reason you’re here. But do you remember the terrifying human being you were on the ice for the Bruins too? That’s the guy we need. Sure, people can keep talking about your weight for some reason, which I think is dumb by the way because you’re just a big dude so what are you supposed to do at a point, but what I actually care about is seeing the guy that can be an absolute menace to society when he wants to be.
I want to see the guy that used to leave carnage in his wake and body bags all over the ice. We both know you can still be that guy, and I’m telling you that if you can get back to playing that flavour of hockey again that the goals you missed last season will start to take care of themselves. For as long as I’ve watched you do the hockey, the best games I’ve seen you play are the ones when you’re physically engaged, destroying humans and leaving the undies of your opponents lined with skids. Is it too much to ask that you play the game in a way that could potentially cause your opponents to shit themselves? No, I don’t think so either. But here’s the key, you have to do it on a nightly basis.
Since I know a lot of you pro-athletes watch game footage as a tool to help keep your game tight, I wanted to do the same and show you some of your greatest hits to not only help better describe what I’m talking about but also to get you fired up for the new season.
You remember this? Do you remember how pissed off the Sabres were at you but couldn’t do jack shit about it because they were all scared you would rip their spine out and let the boys limbo underneath it? And look at you, standing there like you couldn’t care less about dropping Ryan Miller like a fart in an elevator. It’s incredible. You’re like a gladiator that’s admiring his kill and the townsfolk were too weak to do anything about it. Awesome. This is the guy we need.
How about this hit? You basically put Van Ryn into the parking lot and the whole place went bananas. Do you know how loud Rogers Place would be if you put someone through the glass? And if you did it in the playoffs? You’d be a legend in the 7-8-0 and there would be real concerns about Ford Hall collapsing into 104th ave from thousands of Oilers fans going ballistic. You ever hear about riding the Ford Hall wave? It’s a thing, man, and we’re all happy to take our safety into our own hands if that means your team is winning. Of course, there are going to be times when you’re not scoring, and I’m telling you that Oilers fans will be okay with that if you’re going out and throwing hits like this that could potentially put someone into the stands. In this city, we love that shit.
Remember this? This was your first goal as an Oiler and you executed the play perfectly. This wasn’t too long after you signed the long-term deal that was going to bring some swagger back to the City of Champions, and it happened at home where you could feel the love coming from an arena packed with people that could be spending the small fortune needed to get in the building on literally anything else. And these aren’t fairweather fans either, my friend, they were legitimately pumped for you. These are people that care… a lot. And yeah, I heard you talking about needing to lather on lotion because the air is dry in Edmonton during the winter but I’m telling you that leaving a legacy of winning in this city will last a hell of a lot longer than the temporary annoyance of a few months of lubing up.
This goal was the first of 23 that you got in 2016-17, each one an important piece of the puzzle that was the Oilers’ first playoff appearance in 800 years, so the legend goes.
How about this? You remember this? If I could take only one example of what we need from you and play it on loop in your brain it would probably be this one. Not only did you murder a man behind the net, you finished things off with the game tying goal as the cherry on top of your destructive sundae. It was funkin’ beautiful, man, and exactly the kind of sequence that will make you a hero to Oiler lovin’ folk like me and everyone reading this. You can do this, Milan. Just believe in yourself, think positive and you can maybe/probably still be the player we all need you to be!
All I’m saying is that slumps will come and slumps will go, but if you consistently play the terrifying way the sweet Serbian hockey gods designed you to play then the goals will come and we’re all going to be alright again. And whether you actually asked for a trade or not, I don’t care at this point. We’re not going to go around in circles on that again. What matters is that you’re here right now and that we’re gonna do this thing together for good or for bad, and I’m really tired of eating beets. Do you know how many poohs eating 33 pounds (real number) of beets will cause? A lot, man! It’s gross and I hate myself for saying I’d do it again, so you need to help me out here by contributing to some more wins, alright?
At the end of the day, we’re heading into another season here together and I’m going to try and do what it takes to make it a better one for both of us. I’ll do my absolute best to support you as much as I possibly can from here by focusing on things that are more positive than the time I started the “has Lucic scored tonight” Wrap Up counter. All I ask is that you play the way you can on a nightly basis, and even if the goals aren’t coming like they used to that you still make your presence known and, even more so, make it felt. I just keep thinking that if you can get back to being the destroyer of worlds like we saw in the clips above as much as is humanly possible that the goals will follow. Like in last night’s game, for example, you put home your first of the pre-season by being an absolutely unmoveable unit in front of the net and keeping your stick on the ice for a tap-in. That’s the good stuff, Looch, and I’m hoping some early ginos will help build up the goal-scoring confidence that was lacking at the end of last season.
I’ve heard you say that you have a lot to prove this season and I think we’d all agree with that, but I also think we’re all ready to give this relationship another shot because, frankly, the truth is that we need each other. You want to get back to playing your best and I want that too. I would way rather be taking shots at every other team in the league rather than being forced to come up with self-deprecating jokes just to make me feel better about being an Oilers fan. Just as importantly, I want to eat fewer beets this year and also to have an excuse to get drunk every other day when the spring rolls around. And just like two years ago, you, Looch, are going to have to be a big part of making that happen, so get out there and put someone through the glass, alright? Alright. Deal? Deal.
Now, go out there and have a good season, buddy. Gord knows we need you.