A number wasn’t necessary to identify the burly body barreling down the slot and bearing down on the goalie at Warrior Arena Friday morning.
Scrimmage jerseys don’t have numbers, so it is sometimes hard to tell players apart, but that’s never been the case when it comes to Milan Lucic, who returned to Boston this week for his second go-around in the Black and Gold.
The winger’s unmistakable hulking presence added a little juice to the second captains’ practice as he buzzed up and down the ice on a line with A.J. Greer and James van Riemsdyk.
After a crash course on the nooks and crannies at Warrior — the Bruins’ sparkling facility opened in 2016, the year after Lucic was traded to the Kings — he was off and running. And excited.
“Obviously real nice to be back and real nice to be in the Bruins colors and skating with all the guys again,” Lucic said after the workout. “So, a good couple of days here to end off the week into the weekend and just excited for everything to get going.”
In addition to Los Angeles, Lucic had stints in Edmonton (2016–19) and Calgary (2019–23), but he longed for a return to where he became a Stanley Cup champion and a Garden favorite for his unique combination of physicality and scoring touch.
What did he miss most about Boston?
“To be honest, it just feels like I’m home again. That’s probably the best way to put it,” Lucic said. “I could say a restaurant or a place or something like that, but at the end of the day it just feels like I’ve come back home and that’s the feeling that I’ve felt so far being here since Sunday.”
The journey back home began when Lucic saw a familiar number scroll across his cell while on dad duty.
“I was actually on Hermosa Pier dropping off my oldest daughter at her junior lifeguard [post] when I first got the call from Don [Sweeney],” he said.
The Bruins general manager was offering the 35-year-old unrestricted free agent a deal he couldn’t resist.
“Obviously I wanted to have as many conversations as I could being a [unrestricted free agent], just to see what opportunities were out there and what was going to be the best fit for me,” said Lucic. “And after weighing out all my options and all my opportunities, I just felt like this was going to be the best one for me.”
Being a part of the franchise’s 100th season was just icing on the cake.
“That just made it more tempting to come back to Boston,” said Lucic, who was named to the club’s All-Centennial team, the entirety of which will soon be revealed. “I said it all summer long, it just feels right every time I wear this logo and support these colors. So, to have that opportunity again, it became a no-brainer as I got closer to July 1.”
During his first stint in Boston, Lucic played alongside some of the franchise’s cornerstone players of the last two decades, including Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and his close friend and draft classmate, Brad Marchand. Only Marchand remains, and Lucic believes part of his role this season will be to mentor younger players and help maintain the club’s recent success.
“I think for me that’s probably one of the biggest things coming back, is to keep that culture and that identity, I guess, going in this locker room,” he said. “When you lose guys, like those leaders like [Chara, Bergeron, and Krejci], gives other guys like myself an opportunity to step up and carry the torch. So, I think that’s a big part of my job this year coming in. And like I said, you got to have fun with it, you got to look forward to it even though it’s a big responsibility.”
Charlie McAvoy found out he was named to the franchise’s All-Centennial team via a letter hand-delivered to him in the locker room by Lucic.