Bruins

As he celebrates 1,000 career NHL games, Milan Lucic reminisces over time with the Bruins

Lucic played eight seasons in Boston, helping the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011.

Milan Lucic will be honored for playing 1,000 career NHL games on Saturday. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press via AP)

Milan Lucic’s 1,000th NHL game came during the 56-game, COVID-shortened season. With no fans in the Calgary Flames’ home arena, Lucic didn’t get the chance to properly celebrate the occasion.

So, the Flames are giving him another chance to celebrate on Saturday, when his current team hosts the first team he played for: the Boston Bruins. Lucic is thankful for the opportunity to celebrate the milestone with his first NHL team in attendance.

“Any time you play a former team you look forward to it,” Lucic told reporters Saturday. “I’ve got to give a lot of appreciation and thank you to the Flames and the organization for recognizing my 1,000th game played, re-recognizing it tonight, in front of the fans.”

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“To have it here tonight and recognize it against a team that I played over half of my games with will be pretty cool,” Lucic added.

The Bruins drafted Lucic in the second round of the 2006 NHL Draft. Lucic made his way to Boston just one year later, helping the Bruins reach the playoffs for the first time in four years by scoring eight goals with 19 assists as a rookie.

Lucic’s role with the Bruins only grew from there. He scored 17 goals and had 25 assists in the following season. After playing in just 50 games in the 2009-10 season, Lucic had a career year in 2010-11, scoring 30 goals and notching 32 assists. He continued his strong play in the playoffs that year, scoring five goals with seven assists en route to the Bruins’ Stanley Cup Victory.

Two seasons later, Lucic again stepped up in the playoffs. He scored seven goals to go along with 12 assists, but it wasn’t enough for the Bruins that year as they fell to the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Lucic’s time in Boston came to an end following the 2014-15 season when he was traded to the Kings ahead of that year’s draft. He ended his time with the Bruins with 139 goals and 203 assists over 566 games.

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As Lucic continues his 15th season in the league, he recalled what his Bruins teammates told him when he was a rookie.

“I remember my rookie year and talking to guys like Zdeno Chara and Shane Hnidy,” Lucic said. ”And even Glen Murray … and those three guys were the first to say to me, ‘Enjoy it, because it goes by fast.’ And I kind of laughed and said, ‘OK,’ you know, you’re just a 19-year-old kid and you’re kind of laughing at it. But now, 15 years in, you sit back and look at it all and it really does go by fast.”

Patrice Bergeron, who played with Lucic in all eight of his seasons with the Bruins, had a sense why Lucic was beloved in Boston.

“I think it’s his style of play,” Bergeron said. “I think he’s one of those guys who can beat you with his skill, but he also can beat you with his physicality and the way he plays the game — I think fans appreciate that because he plays hard.”

Those similar traits are also why Bergeron enjoyed his time as teammates with Lucic.

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“Only have good things to say about him,” Bergeron said. “He’s the life of the party. He’s always smiling. He’s always happy. He’s always bringing it. And on the ice, he always sticks up for his teammates. He’s always there for you. You know he’s got your back.”

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