Hockey

Has Milan Lucic simply become a shell of his former self?

When the name Milan Lucic is mentioned across the NHL, there are two points that come to mind. The first being a team, one in which embodies the style of play that Lucic portrays; that name is the Boston Bruins. However, there’s something wrong with that team name. That isn’t the team no.17 plays for anymore. He’s a member of the L.A Kings now, a hockey club that has a very similar heavy style of play as the Bruins. The second ‘point’ being the word ‘power forward’. A player type that involves a player’s size, strength and ability to be physical, but at the same time possessing the skill to be an offensive weapon.

If there’s something that both of these points have in common, it’s that neither are relevant anymore. Lucic is neither a member of the Boston Bruins and as of late, really doesn’t appear to embody a power forward either. Sure, everyone loves seeing Lucic running guys over, dropping the gloves and putting the hurt on people. However, that style of play is only effective when a guy like this distributes offensively and defensively. Your 1st/2nd line winger cannot be averaging 5 to 10-plus penalty minutes a game, and still be considered a productive weapon.

When you take Lucic’s final year in Boston, where he finished the season with just 18 goals and 26 assists, on a contract that was paying around 7/8 million a year. That production simply isn’t good enough. Especially on a Bruins team that really couldn’t afford to keep a player worth that much money, who simply wasn’t living up to expectation.

Now he has a fresh start in L.A, where they expect big things every season, likewise in Boston. If he thought he was going to get an easy ride in Los Angeles, he’s got another thing coming. The spotlight in California couldn’t be any bigger, and they are watching. If Milan Lucic doesn’t live up to the Kings’ expectations this season, it could all come tumbling down on top of him. This single season could be the most important year in Lucic’s career, and guess what? It hasn’t started so great.

It hasn’t exactly been a great beginning to Lucic’s L.A adventure. In his first game as a member of the L.A Kings, the San Jose Sharks came into town and ripped 5 goals past net-minder Jonathan Quick. As if getting beat down 5-1 wasn’t bad enough, Lucic took a big hit from Sharks’ forward as he was leaving the penalty box towards the end of the 3rd period, in retaliation, the Kings’ winger went after Couture, skating from one side of the ice to the other. A scuffle between the two teams occurred and Lucic was eventually ejected from the game. A real Milan Lucic type move. Old habits die hard, right.

Now we’re nearly two weeks into the season, the Kings have only just won their first game (2-1 OT win over the Minnesota Wild), they sit 5th in the Pacific Division with a 1-3-0 record. Milan Lucic has just the one assist, no goals, and a plus-minus of -3. Along with that, in perfect Lucic fashion, he current sits with 1o penalty minutes. Not the start he was looking for.

The point of all this is, is that a player of Lucic’s caliber should be putting up 20-plus goals every season, no problem whatsoever. But if the idiotic decisions don’t leave his game, then the problems he faces will always remain. Maybe he needs the fuel, maybe that what makes him tick. But there’s a difference between playing on the edge and staying disciplined than there is to go out of your way to do something that might jeopardize your team’s chances of success.

As soon as the production leaves his game, all that’s left is an empty shell of what Milan Lucic used to be. Take away his offense, he’s really nothing more than a goon, and everybody knows that there really isn’t that much space in the NHL for a player who only uses is that of his fists anymore. Lucic has to start returning to the offensive powerhouse everyone knows he can be, otherwise we might be seeing some serious changes to this guys career.

 

Image Source: Harry How/Getty Images North America

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