Milan Lucic is giving every indication that he wants to play for the Vancouver Canucks and I want to see it happen. I know, I can’t believe I just wrote that either.
The product of East Van was reportedly willing to waive his no-trade clause for a move home when the Bruins dealt him in June.
Canucks GM Jim Benning is a big fan of Lucic, of course, having spent time with the power forward in Boston. He was eventually moved to the LA Kings, with the Canucks in no position to be giving up future assets at this point in their quasi-rebuild.
But Lucic, a UFA after this season, is likely destined to play just one season in Los Angeles, given their salary cap situation. The Bruins are picking up $2.75M of Lucic’s salary this season, so it’s highly unlikely that LA will be able to afford him at his full price when they also have to re-sign Anze Kopitar.
Lucic appears to see the writing on the wall also, hinting that a move to Vancouver might be in his future on TSN 1040 earlier this week.
I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen moving on. I have one year left on my contract and there’s a possibility that I can hit the UFA market. It’s obviously something that’s been a dream of mine since I’ve been a kid, is to play in your hometown and play for the Canucks. But right now the main focus is to go down to LA and try to make the most of that.
Notice that he didn’t say playing for the Canucks used to be a dream of his. This is basically as close as you will see an NHL player admit to wanting to play for another team while under contract.
Many Canucks fans will not be happy about this and I get it. Nobody has hated the Bruins since 2011 more than yours truly. It’s not an act, it’s not something I say just to get attention on Twitter. I really hated/hate them.
And if Brad Marchand was enemy #1, then Lucic was probably enemy #2 (honourable mentions go to Mark Recchi, Tim Thomas, Shawn Thornton, etc). For the record, I would not welcome Marchand under any circumstance, I have my limits.
But if Lebron can go back to Cleveland, why can’t Milan go back to Vancouver?
With Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa now gone, Lucic may be able to fit into the Canucks room a little more seamlessly than in the past. And a one-year detox in Los Angeles should help get the Bruins stench off him enough for Canucks fans.
He’s coming off a disappointing season where he had 18 goals and 44 points, but Lucic is a power forward with enforcer-like toughness and 30-goal potential. Lucic will turn 28 next summer, so he is still in his prime and he is likely to still be a difference maker when the Canucks are ready to contend again in a few years.
Lucic is a hot head, defends his teammates and speaks his mind, so it’s no surprise that he is hated by the opposition. But that kind of player is exactly the kind of player that teammates and home fans love, and Vancouver will love Lucic (eventually) if he chooses to come home.
And that’s the kicker. If Lucic chooses to come to Vancouver because of a dream of playing for his hometown team, how can we continue to hate him? This isn’t Mark Messier chasing the money, this is an East Van kid wanting to play for the Canucks.
Lucic wants to right a wrong and I support it. Now let’s just hope that Jim Benning can get him signed to a reasonable contract next summer.