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Bruins know they're in spotlight

9/21/2011

BOSTON -- It was already hard enough being Milan Lucic around Boston, between the media spots, Cam Neely comparisons, YouTube folklore and tens of thousands of adoring fans.

Now, as a Stanley Cup champ? The popular Bruins winger can barely hide behind the tinted windows of his Audi S5, whether he's cruising around the Back Bay, heading to the rink or, heck, anywhere in between.

"Every time I'm in my car, people are honking at me, waving at me, showing me their Bruins shirts and stuff like that," he said with a laugh. "I'm like, 'How do they even spot me?' I don't' spot other people when I'm driving, I don't look at the people in the car. That's definitely been the biggest change."

The die-hards are done complaining (for now), and the folks in and around Boston can't heap enough praise toward Bruins players in public these days. For the most part, players have embraced the high-profile status as Lucic has.

"The fans, they really felt like they were involved," he said. "They were like our seventh man the whole run. It was definitely great to see and experience during the summer."

Others, like Andrew Ference, have dismissed it as another day in the life.

"It's a small city, man. I'm friendly with a lot of people already," he said, smiling.

Energy-line winger and enforcer Shawn Thornton, another popular face pre-Cup, summed up his summer living in Charlestown as "awesome", saying "I'm a pretty normal guy, blue-collar guy, and all this getting recognized still doesn't sink in some days. It's a different feeling."

Thornton noted that the fans, when greeting him, are usually respectful. Still, it's a far cry from his first go-around with the Cup in Anaheim back in 2007, when star players like Teemu Selanne often registered but a blip when out and about in Southern California.

Around here? Every time Thornton goes out for dinner, he's sprinkled with "Congrats," "Win a third" and "Can we get a photo?"

"No more sneaking in and out of a place to grab a beer, or just to grab a bite," Thornton said. "You're recognized everywhere. That comes with the territory when you win, so I guess it's another positive thing. Not gonna lie to you, it was nice when you could sneak in and out of places a little bit, but that means we're one of the big teams again, and that's a positive."

Like everything else, though, the attention can come for better or worse. Hours after the Bruins won the Cup, they celebrated with a visit to Foxwoods, where they rang up a tab reported to be north of $150,000. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara later said the actual amount of the bill was much less. The story -- while viewed as comical and lighthearted -- ended up taking on a life of its own, with camera phone pictures galore to give it a long run this summer.

"Obviously, the world's changed, with social media and stuff," Lucic said. "Everyone's got a camera on them everywhere they go now with the camera phones. You know, in a split-second, I could take a picture of you, of us, and it'll be on Barstool in 30 seconds. It is what it is, we did what we did; obviously, we're gonna go out and have some fun after we achieve our goal and our dream, and it's gonna get the attention it got. It's something we can't control."

But does it warrant being a little more guarded now? Lucic sighed and let out a small grin.

"Yeah."