Chiarelli: Hard to Play Against
Lucic remains in the core
WILMINGTON, MA — "Looooooooooooooooch" will be a familiar refrain for the TD Garden faithful for several more years as the Boston Bruins re-signed Milan Lucic to a contract extension on Saturday.
"We’ve signed Milan Lucic to a three-year extension," said B's General Manager Peter Chiarelli. "It marks the end of our signings for now.
For many, retaining Lucic, the embodiment of the Black & Gold's "tougher to play against" mantra under Chiarelli and Head Coach Claude Julien, was a no-brainer.
"It was very important," said Chiarelli in regards to Lucic's fitting the B's mold. "He’s a signature style player, and he also benefits from a very deep group.
"Part of my challenge is to try and obviously ice a very good team, and try to maintain a, I like to call it, a healthy balance of players who have a style of play and what you pay them and how long they’ve been in the NHL.
"That’s a challenge of mine, but Milan is an important player, and…he’s hard to play against, big and strong, heavy on the puck. A lot of things I like."
As he talked about his time with the Bruins, Lucic, drafted by Boston in the 2nd round (50th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, reminisced about Boston Bruins Development Camp 2007 and his steering a Duck Boat full of B's prospects on the Charles River.
The teenaged Milan could have hardly imagined he would be in a similar boat celebrating a Stanley Cup victory in 2011 and then signing a contract extension with the club that drafted him in 2012.
"It’s a proud moment," said Lucic of signing his new deal. "I didn’t really know what to expect when I grabbed a hold of the wheel of the Duck Boat that summer, heading into development camp.
"Obviously it’s a great thing for myself, and my family, and the Boston Bruins."
And remaining with the B's, and alongside so many teammates that have been in the B's system for so long, is gratifying.
"I think it’s pretty cool," said Lucic. "I think it’s really interesting, like you look back, you said at that very first development camp that we had, back in the summer of ’07.
"There’s a good number of guys that are still here on this team, playing big roles," added the left wing of a group that included David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid and Tuukka Rask. "They’ve done a great job developing players and...allowing us to be the best we can be."
All of which has been Chiarelli's intent as he negotiates with the Boston Bruins best and brightest stars.
"We’ve got a lot of popular players. When you have some success like we’ve had over the years, you win a Stanley Cup a year ago; a lot of our players are popular," said Chiarelli. "The bottom line is we’ve got a good group and we’ve got a group that can win, a group that can challenge for the Cup, and they can win the Cup again, and [Lucic is] a big part of it.
"I try to stress to these guys that it’s not just about you, it’s about the team," added Chiarelli. "I’ve often said that guys takes less sometimes to player here.
"Whether Milan did or not, he wants to play here and he wants to be here for a while.
"I can say the same about a lot of the players that we’ve recently signed," he said.
But now, having the majority of his core locked up for the foreseeable future, the always-busy GM couldn't say he's resting easily.
"I’m a light sleeper anyways," joked Chiarelli. "I’m happy.
"This is what we’ve been trying to do; keep this group together, and we have to make informed decisions on giving guys termed deals, and character is a big element of that and I think we’ve got a high-character team so it makes my job a little easier, a little less difficult."