Rexall Place, where the Bruins faced the Oilers Monday night, long has been known to have the NHL’s best sheet of ice. The two clubs connected on countless tape-to-tape passes during the night, no doubt in part because of the smooth-as-polished-marble surface.
Meanwhile, back in Boston, the hard-working Bull Gang in the next day or two will fix the embarrassing boo-boo of a paint job that came to light over the weekend. In prepping the surface for the 2008-09 season, Garden employees erred on the placement of the two faceoff dots at the west end of the ice (picture yourself on the Bruins bench, and look to the far left of the ice). The dots were a couple of feet too far from the goal line (or too close to the blue line).
According to a team spokesperson, the ice will not be melted, but instead already has been shaved down considerably, essentially to ”paint level.” The popular group Coldplay will perform at the Garden Wednesday night, with the ice surface covered by plywood sheeting, as it routinely is in such circumstances. Once Coldplay has left the building Wednesday eve, the paint job will be fixed and more water flooded onto the surface to build up a thicker sheet.
It is expected that Garden employees also will touch up the large spoked-B logo at center ice. Three of the logo’s spokes, pointed toward the east end, varied significantly in design from the three spokes pointed toward the west end.
The Bruins return to action on their new sheet when the Stars come to town for a 7 p.m. faceoff Saturday.
Favorite son returns
Milan Lucic, the Bruins’ hard-rock winger who grew up in East Vancover, was surrounded by a pack of print and electronic media at GM Place late this morning.
He was fierce even as a youngster. (Vancouver Province)
One of the local papers ran a Lucic feature, highlighted by a couple of pictures of a very young Lucic, one of him in hockey gear, and another with him swinging a baseball bat. His mother happily handed the pix over to the paper, which brought some hootin’ and hollerin’ from Lucic’s teammates as they thumbed through the paper after breakfast.
”I’ll give her the gears about that later,” said the hulking Looch, impressively comfortable with all the media attention. ”I’ve already been hearing it from the boys, stuff like, you know, ‘Good looking baby, growing up . . .what happened!?”’
Scott Bradley, the club’s Vancouver-based director of player personnel, also swung by the rink in the morning to visit with the players and coaches.
Bradley was the motivating force behind the Bruins selecting Lucic with the No. 50 pick in the 2006 draft. Lucic not only grew up in the ‘hood, but he played his junior hockey for the Vancouver Giants, giving Bradley a great number of ”looks” at the raw-but-willing Lucic.
”He kept growing on me,”‘ recalled Bradley, whose father, Bart, was a long-time pro scout for the Bruins and was instrumental in encouraging then-GM Harry Sinden to trade for Cam Neely over 20 years ago. ”I’d go to his games, and he’d grow on me, grow on me more, grow on me a little more…and we’d have other [Boston] scouts come in and I’d say, ‘Well, what do you think?’ Everyone questioned his skating and his hands, and he is still working on those. But what I noticed from the start was how he played the puck out of his own end — he had that knack for finding the guy who was breaking out of the zone.”
Lucic won the Memorial Cup with the Giants, and was name the tourney MVP, in the spring of 2007. Not long after he received the ring commemorating the win, it was stolen from his family’s home, which is not far from the rink where the Canucks played before moving to the much fancier GM Place.
The Giants, Lucic learned upon coming here, have had a replacement ring made, and he anticipated receiving it following the game here tonight.
”I hated to lose it,” said Lucic, ”and I hated the idea of someone being in our house, ruffling through our stuff, ya know?”
As far as he knows, said Lucic, the thief never has been identified.
(Note: Check out the Vancouver Province’s story here. Also from the feature — a “through the years” photo gallery, a story on Lucic nearly quitting hockey in 2003 and the “Best of…” YouTube collection.)