BOSTON -- Just hours after the Bruins had fallen short in a heated 4-3 Stanley Cup rematch to the rival Vancouver Canucks, the NHL announced Milan Lucics game misconduct for leaving the bench during an altercation had been rescinded.
The major penalty was coupled with a two-minute minor for roughing less than four minutes into the first period after Lucic arrived to the defense of Shawn Thornton getting swarmed by six Canucks attackers.
Video replays after the game confirmed that Lucic was perfectly in the right, but the damage was done with the Bs power forward missing the final 56 plus minutes of the game.
Video replays revealed Lucic with one skate on the ice and one skate on the bench at the time of the Thornton confrontation with Alex Burrows, who speared the Bs enforcer near the throat between the two benches. Daniel Paille, the player that Lucic was replacing on the fly, was standing in the bench area watching the entire confrontation.
So Lucic was within his rights to be on the ice, and really didnt deserve to be ejected from one of Bostons biggest games of the year. He had entered the ice legally over the boards and was about to step back onto the bench through the door when he changed course and joined a scrum.
"The referees reacted to what they saw," NHL Director of Officiating Terry Gregson said. "The only player they saw coming from the bench area from either team was Lucic. But with the benefit of replay, we can see that Lucic had previously entered the ice over the boards legally to join the play and actually was contemplating stepping back onto the bench through the door when the altercation ensued.
"It should be further noted that a review of the video confirmed that all players on both teams involved in the altercation had entered the ice legally for the purpose of joining the play. None entered the ice for the purpose of joining or starting an altercation, which is prohibited by Rule 70."
But it seemed the refs made the call under some duress to keep control of the game for the remaining 56 minutes, and Lucic ended up on the losing end of the equation in a game that could have gone much differently with No. 17 taking regular shifts on the ice.
I feel badly that they had seven guys on the ice and Looch was on a change and he gets ejected for coming in to my defense, said Thornton. So, I feel bad that we lose one of our best players after all that. But I guess thats the end of it."
Thornton attacked snapped back at Burrows with an unwitting Sedin caught in the crossfire, and that turned into six Canucks skaters along with two players on the bench holding him down attacking the forward like a prison-style group beating.
Im a big boy I can handle myself. Im not worried about that. I was more upset with the spear to the throat. I thought, I mean I dont lose my cool for no reason, said Thornton. Im a pretty I see myself as a pretty honest player. But, Im not going to let someone spear me in the throat. Im also a man so I stand up for myself.
Lucic jumped in along with Nathan Horton, Zdeno Chara and David Krejci among others to defend the fallen Thornton. At the time it seemed questionable whether the Bs power forward actually left the bench, but it was too late once the official call had been made that Lucic was done for the day. The Bruins coaching staff spent the rest of the day scrambling to replace Lucic and Brad Marchand after both players were thrown out of the game.
Give full credit to Benoit Pouliot and Gregory Campbell to filling into that humungous void, but its just not the same for a Black and Gold team looking for all of their firepower against a motivated Canucks bunch.
When you lose your top two left wingers you put yourself in a little bit of a whole, said Chris Kelly in the understatement of the year. But we had guys step up. I thought Pouliot had a great game getting juggled around the lineup, and helped set up that Peverley goal.
Following the game Bs coach Claude Julien felt Lucic would be in the clear in the eyes of Brendan Shanahan and the Player Safety Department, and he was eventually proven correct with this evenings announcement.
Im not blaming the referees theyre in the middle of a scrum there but Looch was on the ice already. It wasnt an illegal change; he didnt come off the bench, said Claude Julien. There are no issues there in my mind; its clear.
Whats unfortunate is that we lost a pretty good player early in the game, and thats what is more disappointing: A guy looking forward to playing this game, hes from Vancouver, and he gets tossed out, but he actually didnt do anything wrong. Well let the league, again, take care of that stuff because theres nothing more we can do.
The Bruins and Lucic have the consolation prize of the big wingers game misconduct being rescinded and a tacit admission by the league he did nothing wrong. But that doesnt do a lot of good when the proverbial has already been spilled with the game already lost to Vancouver, does it?