WILMINGTON — Milan Lucic will not be suspended for his open-ice hit on Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller in Saturday night’s 6-2 victory over Buffalo at TD Garden, the league announced this afternoon. Lucic had a conference call with Brendan Shananan, NHL’s disciplinary czar, at 1 p.m.today.
“I had the hearing because I did make an initial assessment of the play as I do with all plays, but I did have some questions for Milan and I wanted to hear directly from him,” Shanahan told NHL.com. “They were regarding his intent; at what point did he know there was going to be a collision; and whether or not he felt he had the time to avoid the collision. I was satisfied with his answers.”
Earlier today, Lucic told reporters why he didn’t think he should be suspended.
“Obviously, it was a hard collision and I did everything I could just to brace myself,” Lucic said. “I have 50 pounds on him and it’s probably why he might’ve got the worst of it. If you look at the video, I was cringing after the play, too, because I was winded and it was a hard collision and he got a good piece of me, as well.”
Miller, who strayed far out of the crease to retrieve a loose puck Lucic was chasing, wound up getting flattened in a collision with the Bruins bruising forward at 13:12 of the first period.
Lucic was sent off to serve a charging minor for his collision. In stating his case, Lucic explained he was simply chasing after a loose puck when he collided with Miller.
“I blocked a shot and I pushed the puck a little too far ahead of me and started skating after the puck as hard as I could,” Lucic said. “I looked up and he was still in the net, then when I looked down at the puck, I continued on.and the next thing I look up and he’s coming out full speed at me.
“Obviously, for myself, the last 8-9 games I’ve found my game, so the last thing you want to do is get out of the lineup.
Lucic said he had watched video of the play “100 times” and was surprised to learn that Miller had suffered a concussion. Miller, however, played the first and second periods before departing at the start of the third with what was described as a “sore neck.”
“His shoulder hit my chest, so there was no hit to his head,” Lucic said. “His helmet came flying off, but his head didn’t hit the ice. Later on, in that period, one their guys lifted [Tyler Seguin’s] stick and threw him into the net, as well. So who knows what it was. It was just unfortunate that he got hurt on the play.”
Asked if players should be given some latitude for incidental contact when a goalie ventures well beyond the crease to play the puck, Lucic replied: “It’s kind of a gray area. I don’t know what to say too much. Like I said, in my situation, I was going full speed and he was coming out full speed and I saw him at the last second, so all I did was brace myself. I felt like I was in a position where I couldn’t avoid the check. That’s basically my thoughts on that.”
Afterward Miller waited in the the Sabres dressing room to meet with reporters so that he could lash out at Lucic, calling him, “A gutless piece of [expletive].”
“I just stuck around because I just want to say what a piece of [expletive] I think Lucic is,” Miller said. “Fifty pounds on me and he runs me like that. It’s unbelievable Everyone in this city sees him as a big, tough, solid player. I respected him for how hard he played. That was gutless. Gutless piece of (excrement).”
Asked for his reaction to Miller’s biting remarks, Lucic said, “Obviously, he felt like he needed to stick around and say what he said about me. For me, it’s in one ear and out the other. I just move on and focus on what I need to do to continue helping this team be successful.”