If he could've, Milan Lucic probably would've stayed on the field at LaLacheur Park on Friday night and signed an autograph for every fan who attended the first Milan Lucic Rock and Jock Softball game for charity. But Lucic had to be up early Saturday for another signing event in Haverhill, MA.
The young Bruins star was clearly enjoying every second of a beautiful night in Lowell to benefit the Health and Education Services, a non-profit aimed at helping to build healthy individuals, families, and communities through the integration of quality health, behavioral health, education and human service programs. Teammate Tim Thomas served as a bench coach and Shawn Thornton joined Lucic on the "Jocks" team that pulled out a fun and exciting 5-4 win over the "Rocks" in the bottom of the ninth inning before an at least half-packed house.
"That was great," Lucic said of the turnout and the night. "I really was impressed with how many people came and it was really fun. That's what it's all about."
Lucic is also hoping the 2010-11 season is all about fun on the ice after the Bruins' monumental collapse in the second round of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs in which they blew a 3-0 series lead and a 3-0 lead in Game 7 (Lucic had two goals) to the Flyers. But while that loss left a bitter taste in Lucic's and his teammates' mouths that won't go away until they win the Stanley Cup, the season as a whole was something Lucic wants to forget. Lucic missed 32 games due to a broken finger and high ankle sprain, the latter of which he admitted Friday night never really healed until this summer.
"It was a really frustrating season for me because every time I seemed to get healthy and gain momentum, I would get hurt again or that pain from the sprain just never really went away," Lucic said. "To be honest, I don't think I really felt normal until last month. But I've been working out at home in Vancouver with my crew from the Vancouver Giants [Lucic's junior team in the WHL] and just really relaxing and trying to look to the future. I'm really excited to get going for the upcoming season and being back here has made me realize that even more.
"You start to feel the excitement, and to see all these people here, it's clear the fans are excited too."
Lucic has watched from afar as general manager Peter Chiarelli made some major changes and additions through trades and the NHL Entry Draft. Lucic said he is excited to meet and play with the team's prized draft pick Tyler Seguin and also possibly play on a line with the player who came to Boston in exchange for one of Lucic's closest friends and former teammate Dennis Wideman. Despite the sadness in seeing Wideman leave, Lucic knows that Nathan Horton will bring some much-needed scoring to the Bruins offense.
"Well, you know it's bittersweet with that trade because I'm so close to Wides and you hate to see a friend traded but it's part of the business," the rugged winger said. "But on the flip side, we get a heck of a player in Horton. He's got a great shot and could be that scorer we need on the top line. Then, of course, we got Tyler coming in and I'm psyched to see him play and welcome him in. So yeah, it's been a good offseason I think."
Lucic is also hoping that he will once again be playing on the top line with another one of his good friends, center Marc Savard, despite constant trade rumors.
"Yeah, I don't really get those rumors and I feel for Savvy because it's hard on him and he loves it here," Lucic said of the trade talk surrounding the team's leading scorer for three of the past four seasons. "I would love to play with him and Horton, for sure. I think that would be a great line because I've always felt Savvy and me play well together with me creating space and him finding the other wing for the shot. That could be Horton or me, and I think that would be fun."
Lucic was scheduled to return to his native Vancouver on Monday for some more time at home before returning to Boston for training camp in September. But from the sound of it, he is more than willing to stick around Boston and get started early.
"If we could drop the puck now that would be great!" Lucic said with a wide grin. "I'm ready, and it's going to be a great season!"