Even though he was on the opposite coast and maybe wasn’t as likely or able to stay up to watch the games of his new team, Milan Lucic was more than aware of the Kings style of play while he was a Boston Bruin.
“When you watch, especially in the playoffs and in the way that I play, you watch and in the back of your mind that’s a team that you can see yourself being a part of and you enjoy watching the way that they play,” he said. “I think that’s a real exciting part of me coming here, is that I feel like I fit right into the system that they already have here and that I could just come in and be myself and contribute to what they already have going on. I mean it’s not like they brought me here to change the identity or change the style of the team’s play. It’s just to add another component to what they already have. I think that’s going to make the transition a little bit easier for myself and I’m excited to, like I said, finally get things going.”
The Bruins, the 2011 Stanley Cup winners and 2013 Cup finalists, utilize a very similar style to that of the Kings. So slotting alongside Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik, as he did Friday, isn’t likely to change any aspect of the way he plays or utilizes his 6-foot-3, 235-pound frame.
“I think it’s the same role,” he said. “I played a top-six role, left-winger with the Bruins and the role is expected to be the same here. So like I said before, getting the opportunity to play with two players of the caliber that they are is something that’s real exciting and something that I’m really looking forward to. I hope that we gel quickly and the chemistry is there off the get-go and we have a great season playing together. I know for myself personally, I’m real excited about it just because of how much success the two of them have had in the NHL and playing at such a high level. I’ve also been at a high level. Being a part of the Stanley Cup Final two times is something that I got to experience, which was the best experience of the eight years that I spent in Boston. So I’m excited to play that high caliber hockey here again with two players like that.”
On Friday morning, Lucic continued to discuss his expectations for the coming season as several of his new teammates spoke about what it means to have the bruising power forward wearing a Kings insignia.
Drew Doughty, on what he’s learned about Milan Lucic:
He’s very determined to win hockey games. He’s very determined to be the best hockey player he can be and that’s what we need on this team. He’s one of our leaders now on this team. Guys who look up to him, he’s showing them the right things to do. So it’s definitely a bonus.
Anze Kopitar, on developing chemistry with Lucic:
We’ve got a good shooter in Gabby and then Looch obviously gives us a little bit more pounds on the line too and then maybe a little bit more physicality. I’ll just try and do what I’ve been doing so far and I’ll take care of both ends of the ice and try to make plays and get those guys the puck in scoring areas.
Kopitar, on what Lucic’s size brings to his line:
Just with the style, with our play because we do play a puck possession game, he gets into the corner and I know from playing against him it’s tough to take the puck off of him. That’s how we want to play. We want to wear teams down and it’s certainly going to help us.
Lucic, on his goals for the upcoming season:
That’s going out there and being the best player you can be for your team. In a perfect scenario, this would be a place where I could see myself playing out the rest of my career. Again, obviously, it’s no secret that I’m on the last year of my contract and I’m going into a summer where I could potentially be a UFA. But at the end of the day, I’m not too worried about that. I’m worried about the team success because what I’ve learned over my eight years so far – when the team has success, individuals have success and everything takes care of itself after that.
Lucic, on whether he’s had an easy transition to Los Angeles:
So far it has, especially like what I was just saying, it feels right being back on the west coast. I’m still spending my summers back in Vancouver and Kelowna, so not having to change time zones before the season starts has been nice. Obviously being down here, you can’t complain about too much. It’s been a great transition so far and I’m excited that it has finally started here today with the first official practice and the first official preseason game is starting on Monday. So I’m happy that’s finally gotten going. It’s been too long of an offseason and I think everyone around, from coaches to players to management, is excited that the training camp is here and the regular season is close.
Lucic, on whether he will be able to adjust to living near the beach during the season:
Yeah, you can definitely adjust to something like that. The guys here have shown that you can adjust and be a competitive team, even living in a place like this. So far, like I said, I’ve been loving every bit of it and enjoying every bit of it and enjoying living down here, enjoying the pace of how people live and the laid back, Cali type of stuff. But also, you’re able to make that transition into focusing on your job and what you need to do to win hockey games. I think having that balance is healthy. I think they’ve created a healthy balance here and I’m excited to be a part of it.
Lucic, on the perception of Los Angeles around the league:
I think from the outside looking in, it’s a little bit undercover of a hockey-crazed market. I think the Kings fans are pretty loyal for the most part. Every time I’ve played here, it’s been sold out at Staples and for the most part, it’s been a pretty loud and rocking crowd. But the only things that [Vancouver and Boston] didn’t have going on was all the other stuff – the Hollywood, the movie stars, the beach and all that other fun stuff that goes along with it. So it’s just natural that sometimes a team like this can get overlooked. But like I said, it’s a little bit of an undercover hockey market. Everywhere you go, you see a Kings hat here and there, inside L.A., outside L.A., and up even in Canada you see it all over the place. I’m excited to be a part of this organization and hopefully I can help contribute more success to what the team already has.