For long periods of November both Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand were absent from the informal skates held by locked out NHL players around Boston. Marchand was shuttling back-and-forth between Boston and his native Nova Scotia and squeezed in a few moose-hunting trips with his dad given the rare spare time at his disposal. Lucic has a new bride and is expecting his first child at the end of January, and was also very surprised that the lockout actually lasted into December.
Otherwise, Lucic might have headed over to Europe for a month or two to stay sharp like a dozen of his Bruins teammates, but instead he stuck around the Hub with Shawn Thornton, Mike Mottau, Keith Yandle, Ryan Whitney, Jay Pandolfo and other local players. But the Bs power forward admitted he got a little discouraged over the last few weeks, and stopped skating regularly during the month of November. Motivation was a difficult thing to come by when he didnt have a likely regular season start date that he could be shooting for.
Ive been using the word hope a lot, so lets hope things get solved, said Lucic. It definitely was difficult to stay motivated when the NHL cancelled the entire month of November. It was really hard. It came to a point where I decided to step back from the ice a bit because I felt like I was hurting myself rather than helping myself.
It was more into getting healthy in all my off-ice stuff. But last month was definitely tough. With Tuesday happening and hopefully something happening on Wednesday you get that fire burning again.
The fire is important for Lucic because the 6-foot-3, 230-pound forwards engine historically takes some time to get running at high efficiency, and hed need some time to ramp up for a shortened regular season.
Marchand admitted much the same thing while sticking around North America unless there came a time when the entire 2012-13 season was cancelled. But perhaps in an encouraging sign the players truly believe progress is coming, both Lucic and Marchand were among a large group of players skating at an informal practice on Tuesday.
Thats a long way from two or three weeks ago when skating day after day seemed a little hopeless.
Its gone on longer than I thought it would and longer than I had hoped it would, said Marchand. Hopefully something will get done so the season doesnt get cancelled. Its been tough at times. Youre so unsure about whats going to happen and the future of the game.
It can get tough getting up, and sometimes the skates arent very good or the workouts arent very long. But you work out for a reason and you need to make sure you stay in game shape.
If motivation was a challenge in November it certainly doesnt seem to be the case now. Marchand was buzzing around at Tuesdays practice with his typical extra gear of skating speed and willingness to stick his nose into high traffic areas. Thats a good sign Marchand is quickly getting ready for an NHL season that might finally be arriving later than scheduled.