The lasting image of the Bruins season — a disappointing one, in the end — came as they took part in the handshake line at the end of Game 7 against the Canadiens Wednesday night at TD Garden. There was frustration and sadness, and the sense that this team will never be exactly the same one again.
And then there was Milan Lucic.
The burly left wing shook the hand of Montreal forward Dale Weise, leaned over to speak to him, and then did the same with Alexei Emelin. It has been reported that Lucic told Weise, “I’m going to [expletive] kill you next year.”
Weise later contrasted Lucic’s behavior with that of Shawn Thornton, saying that Thornton lost “with class, and Milan Lucic just couldn’t do that. I won’t get into what he said, it’s just a poor way to lose.”
Given a chance to show remorse Friday when the Bruins met with reporters, Lucic instead said defiantly, “I’m not sorry that I did it.
“I’m a guy that plays on emotion, and this is a game of emotions. Sometimes you make decisions out of emotion that might not be the best ones. That’s what it is.
“I didn’t make the NHL because I accepted losing or I accepted failure, and I think that’s what’s gotten me to this point and made me the player that I am.”
Asked later whether he would do the same thing again in the same situation, Lucic said, “Probably not. But I live by, what is said on the ice stays on the ice.”
Lucic was upset primarily because Weise spoke to the media about the statements, something Lucic believes broke the NHL code. He called him “a baby” for revealing what had been said.
“It’s unfortunate, because what’s said on the ice stays on the ice, and unfortunately that code is broken and it’s unfortunate that it blows up to what it is now,” Lucic said. “I’m not the first guy to do it, I’m not the last guy to do it.
“You [media] guys have all known me for a long time now. You guys know I don’t come running to anyone about anything. I deal with my problems myself. That’s the way I go about my business. I don’t think much of the guys that feel the need to go and do stuff like that.”
Some of the trouble between Lucic and the Canadiens started early in the series, when Lucic celebrated a goal in a way they didn’t appreciate. Weise then mocked Lucic’s chest-pounding celebration in Game 3. Things escalated when Lucic flexed his biceps and pointed to it in the direction of P.K. Subban during Boston’s Game 5 win. Weise flexed his own biceps back in Game 6.
All of that led to the exchange in the handshake line.
“He plays on emotion,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Friday. “This series seemed to be a lot of little things that became really big things, that being one of them.
“Milan plays on emotion. He plays a hard game. And stuff gets said on the ice, during the game, between whistles, after the game. He has to play that way. We have players that have to play that way.
“I don’t know what he said. I haven’t ignored it, I just really haven’t followed it that closely. I’m not trying to minimize it.
“He does play on emotion. I wouldn’t call it good with the bad or bad with the good. He plays on emotion and he has to play that way.”
But Lucic certainly did not enhance his reputation, one that has taken hits from the collision with Sabres goalie Ryan Miller in 2011, to his sudden propensity to spear players – Emelin, Detroit’s Danny DeKeyser (for which he was fined $5,000), to a bar fight in Vancouver in December.
He was asked about that reputation and whether it might have suffered more in the wake of his interaction with Weise.
“Somebody always has something to say, right?” Lucic said. “At the end of the day, I’ve built a reputation for myself over the last seven years, and for the way that I play, kept it clean over the last seven years other than a couple times.
“I’m not worried about people trying to tarnish my image and stuff like that. I still need to be the person that I am, and I care about the people I’m accountable to. That’s my teammates, the coaches, my family, the fans, all those people.
“So if I have the respect and the right image from them, then like I said, I’m not worried about my image being tarnished other than from the people that I’m accountable to.”Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.