It wasn’t the first time Milan Lucic had been caught spearing someone. And, with it happening twice in the last two months, the Bruins right winger might be starting to get a reputation, though on Saturday he emphasized that he believes “in playing within the rules.”
Lucic was assessed a $5,000 fine by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety Saturday for spearing Detroit’s Danny DeKeyser at 19:55 of the second period in the Bruins’ 1-0 loss to the Red Wings in Game 1 of their playoff series Friday night. He had a telephone hearing Saturday morning, and will not be suspended.
“Obviously, kind of heat-of-the-moment thing when you’re not thinking and you do something like that,” Lucic said. “I’ve been in the league for seven years now. I think I’ve only done that three times. I don’t know why I did it. But, like I said, it’s one of the heat-of-the-moment things, unfortunately, that I did.
“I believe in playing within the rules. For me, I definitely won’t be heading down that road again.”
On the play, Lucic skated behind DeKeyser and put his stick between the Red Wing’s legs. DeKeyser went to the ice immediately, seemingly in pain. The action went unpenalized at the time, but it clearly didn’t sit well with the Red Wings.
“When I look at Lucic, I think he’s a big, enforcing man,” defenseman Brendan Smith said. “He can scare you in other ways instead of doing that. Maybe it was just one of those moments.”
Lucic also was caught spearing the Canadiens’ Alexei Emelin in a game March 24. At the time, Lucic denied it, and called him a “chicken” after the game for a hip check that Emelin threw on the Bruins winger earlier in the game.
Initially, Lucic said of the Emelin spear, “Just skating by him and that’s all. People are trying to say I speared him. I did not spear him, so that’s it.”
But that story had changed by Saturday, though Lucic maintained that he’s a player who plays the game the right way.
“It’s just funny — I never do that, I haven’t done that, but unfortunately I’ve done it twice in the last little bit here,” Lucic said. “I’m not going to make it a habit. I don’t know why I did it both times, but like I said, it’s not going to be a habit of mine. I believe in playing in between the rules the right way, and that’s what I’ll continue to do moving forward.”
Asked if it has happened to him, Lucic said, “It happens. It happens more times than not. With how much video there is today it’s a lot harder to get away with.”
In the end, he didn’t get away with it. The league took a look at the video and, even though the referees didn’t catch it, Player Safety did. And yet, asked for his opinion about the incident, coach Claude Julien said he hadn’t quite gotten a chance for his own viewing.
“I didn’t see it,” Julien said. “Our video doesn’t show it, so I can’t comment on it. I think it was seen on another station, and I haven’t looked at it yet, so can’t say much about it. Obviously if it’s serious enough to get a call, then hopefully he has to adjust and rectify that. I’ve heard of it. I haven’t seen it.”
DeKeyser said he was skating back to the bench at the time and didn’t know who had speared him. He added that he had suffered no ill effects from the incident.
“It just happens during the game,” he said. “You deal with it.”
Added DeKeyser, “It’s playoff hockey and it’s going to be a little physical out there. Stuff like that will happen from time to time. Emotions kind of run high during the games and that’s what it is.”
DeKeyser said that the Red Wings need to focus on their game, and “not getting into playing stuff after the whistle. We’re just going to have to keep playing.”
The bigger issue for Lucic and the Bruins was the lackluster play by Boston’s top line in the first game. The combination of Lucic, David Krejci, and Jarome Iginla wasn’t able to put much pressure on the Detroit defense, something the Bruins could use in upcoming games.
“Obviously, you want to figure it out sooner than later,” Lucic said. “Again, that’s a part of a playoff series is making adjustments, is trying to figure out the other team’s system. We’re going to have to figure it out as a line and be better. We can’t get frustrated. We’ve just got to stick to the basics and what makes us successful as a line.”