DELTA, BC - When Milan Lucic packs up his hockey bag from the Bruins' TD Garden locker room and heads out for the summer, he may not head overseas like his centerman David Krejci, but he certainly travels far, swapping coasts as he settles down outside Vancouver.
And when the #BearTracks crew flew out West, and made the drive from Seattle to the Delta area South of Vancouver, No. 17 and his family graciously opened his new home to us.
He, along with his wife and six-month old daughter, Valentina, showed us around their beautiful home, and the breathtaking sites of the mountains and Vancouver across the water.
After a relaxing afternoon filled with family time, Milan didn't want the crew driving back in Vancouver traffic, so he fired up the grill out on the patio and made it steak night in the Lucic household.
As he sat, relaxing outside during what he said was the 35th straight day of sunshine in the area, he spoke about the peace and quiet he enjoys now during the offseason, as he gears up for the grind of the NHL season.
"That was the whole point of moving out to Tsawwassen and having the home here," said a smiling Lucic, who is always in his element on the ice when he is banging bodies, but seemed just as in his element off the ice at home with his laid back demeanor, away from the hustle of the season.
His training is intense, and takes up his mornings in the offseason, but these moments are what he cherishes both during these summer months and at home back in Boston.
"It can get pretty hectic throughout the season and the last two offseasons I lived in downtown Vancouver," said Lucic. "That was pretty crazy so with everything that's been going on, we kind of wanted to get back and relax and enjoy our time off while we had it. It's definitely been fun so far."
And for one of the key members of the B's core group, he's felt lucky to have been able to go back to his hometown. Unlike most junior players, Milan was able to play close to home, when he suited up for the Vancouver Giants.
"It's great - obviously, it's not the closest place to Boston, but it's always nice to get to come home and see your family, get back to your roots and see all of your friends that you grew up with," said Lucic.
"And another great thing, it's great for your peace of mind just to get your mind and body away from Boston a little bit just to kind of refresh and recoup yourself and, once you get back there, you are excited to be back in Boston and ready to go."
"I'm fortunate to be able to come back out here to where it's such a beautiful spot. I get the best of both worlds getting to be on the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean," he smiled.
The recharge time back around Vancouver is even more important for Milan, considering the short offseason after a long, grueling postseason run - one that is even shorter because of the Olympic break in February that will take two weeks away from the NHL schedule.
"It's pretty crazy, it really only has been a month and, come to think about it, it feels like it was even so much longer ago," said Lucic. "It seems like every offseason goes by quicker and quicker and that's the type of hockey that you want to play as an athlete and as a competitor is postseason hockey and going deep in the playoffs."
The past three offseasons have all been different for Lucic and the Bruins, with 2012 marking the lockout and 2011 a blur with the Summer of Stanley.
"Obviously, we had another great run this year and unfortunately we weren't able to achieve the ultimate goal, but it was great what we were able to do," he added. "And we've got to make the most of the time that we have off from the game, in getting ourselves ready for the grind of what next season brings."
"Honestly, it feels like I haven't stopped over the last three summers and camp's starting almost 10 days earlier just because of the Olympic year and fortunately for me, I was able to be named to the Olympic Orientation Camp for Team Canada and that's coming up a month from now."
After the Team Canada camp at the end of August, Lucic will be heading back to Boston to gear up for the start of another preseason, beginning with camp on September 11.
"[Training Camp] is going to come so quickly from this time on so it's up to every individual to take it upon themselves to make sure they do what they can do to get themselves to make sure they do what they can do to get themselves as ready as possible."
"With the offseason so condensed and with this one being the shortest one that I'm ever going to have to experience, you just try to keep going as much as you can," said Lucic, of taking advantage of the training time he has this summer.
"For myself personally, I played some of my best hockey in the playoffs and in the Final and you kind of just want to keep yourself going from that and not let yourself take too much time off, so you get too far behind."
Because that's what hockey players do right? They cherish the down time, but they live to play.
"You want to do whatever you can to get yourself ready for the grind of next season," said Lucic.
No rest for the weary!
We'll be getting an up-close look at the power forward's offseason training regimen on Wednesday around Vancouver, so be sure to stay tuned to BostonBruins.com, the B's mobile app, and on Twitter and Instagram @NHLBruins, as #BearTracks continues.
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