Bruins, Milan Lucic make it official with one-year contract
After over seven years of wondering what it would be like to be back in the place where it all started for him as a 19-year-old sensation, Milan Lucic could barely wait to make it official.
Still without a contract to his name, and living in his offseason home in Los Angeles, the now 35-year-old Lucic left and went to a store, where he bought a Bruins hat and Bruins shirts for his kids. By 12:01 p.m., one minute into the start of free agency, Lucic sent Bruins general manager Don Sweeney a picture of himself wearing the hat.
“That just says a lot about where his mind is at in coming back home,” Sweeney said. “I think when he steps back on the ice everybody in the building will feel a little bit of a buzz. He went to the World Championships with the full intention of telling everyone how much he loves hockey, how much he continues to want to play hockey, and this is where he wanted to play, and I just feel like bringing Looch back to Boston was the right thing to do for all those reasons.”
It was also the precursor to the sides finally making it official, with Lucic inked to a contract that’ll come with a $1 million base salary, along with up to $500,000 in performance bonuses.
The contract is a staggering $41 million drop from the last time Lucic was a free agent (he signed a seven-year, $42 million contract with the Oilers back then), and with miles and age something the Vancouver-born wing acknowledges ahead of his second run with the Black and Gold.
“As time goes on, things change. Roles change, you change as a player and a person, that’s the thing. I’m not the same player and person who I was ten years ago,” Lucic admitted. “I understand that I’m going to be playing in a different role, in a new role. But at the end of the day, my mindset is still the same as to what I’m trying to achieve, and that’s to win a championship.”
Departing Boston via trade in 2015 as a capable top-six wing, Lucic is returning to Boston in a fourth-line role for 2023, and with the expectation that he’ll help set the tone on and off the ice for a team that’s going through some unavoidable changes.
“[Lucic] feels like he has a lot of juice left and we feel he can provide a real jolt of both enthusiasm and bite to our lineup,” Sweeney said. “He can help guys like [Trent Frederic] and [Jakub Lauko]. He can probably create a little bit of space if somebody is breathing down Pasta’s neck, so it’s a thing we’ve missed and in a perfect world he never would have left, but those decisions were made and now we bring him back home and we’re happy about it.”
But there’s truly nobody happier about it than Lucic.
“It feels like I’m going home,” Lucic said. “It’s always felt like I’ve been a Bruin, and I’m just so happy and thankful for the opportunity to be a Bruin again. Can’t thank Don enough for reaching out and making me a Bruin again. Thanks to him and Cam Neely and Jim Montgomery for bringing me back and I’m looking forward to being a Bruin again.
“I missed being a Bruin more and more as years went on. It’s really funny, I caught myself watching Bruins hockey games. I caught myself cheering for the Red Sox, cheering for the Celtics, cheering for the Patriots. It’s just one of those things because, like I said, it was a place where I felt like I really grew up. Like I said, it just happened that way and I still follow all of those teams like I do. I’m just so happy to be back. I feel like I’m coming home, and by no means is this just a reunion for a farewell tour. I’m coming back for the right reasons, I think I’m coming back to help this team continue to progress and chase a championship. I’m really confident in my abilities to help this team do that.”