On Tuesday, Milan Lucic will play his first ever game in Boston as a visitor.
The 27-year-old power forward had spent his entire NHL career with the Bruins, before a trade at the 2015 NHL Draft sent him to the Los Angeles Kings.
To show his appreciation for the city that was his home for eight seasons, the Vancouver native penned a letter to the Boston faithful in The Players’ Tribune Monday.
In it, he talks about making the team in 2007, and feeling the need to fight to stick around. He said he received some words of wisdom from enforcer Shawn Thornton.
Boston was full of guys who had my back. One of them was Shawn Thornton. Early on, he gave me some very valuable advice: “Listen. It’s not about how many times you beat somebody up. It’s about how many times you don’t get beat up. You don’t always have to win. Just don’t lose.”
The Bruins lost in the first round to the Montreal Canadiens in Lucic’s rookie season, but he said that he could feel that the Bruins were starting to build up towards their Stanley Cup win in 2011, and that they were beginning to win over their city.
Remember, this was 2007-2008. Patriots. Sox. Celtics. All champions. We were lost in the shuffle for a while. I remember there being so many traveling Montreal fans that Chara would skate the puck out from behind the net and he’d be getting booed so loud that it was comical.
“We were saved by the $10 Student Section. Those rowdy kids in Section 308 showed up every Tuesday night and went nuts. Props to Section 308. But by the end of that season, we were packing the place again. You could feel something special coming together.
Lucic also talks about how Boston’s devastating loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2010, which came after the Bruins held a 3-0 series lead, helped propel the team forward the following year.
It’s crazy to say, but I really believe it: we don’t lift the Stanley Cup in 2011 if we don’t blow the Flyers series in 2010. It made us understand what it takes to win. When you think you’ve given everything, it takes just a little bit more.
Lucic was working out when he started to hear the rumours that Bruins general manager was trading him to Los Angeles, where his bruising style has fit in well with the Kings. However, he still holds Beantown close.
I have to say, every day as an LA King has been a happy one. I don’t think I could have landed in a better spot for me and my family. But I’ll always appreciate how Boston shaped my life.
Boston: Thank you. For everything.