By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
LOWELL Milan Lucic is breathing a lot easier these days.
The 25-year-old power forward had sinus surgery last Wednesday with Dr. TessaHadlock at Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary to straighten out an extremely deviated septum after four years of punching and being punched at the NHL level.
Lucic actually had seven separate breaks in his nose, dating back to a face-first plunge into the end boards in Philadelphia during his rookie season, and the 30-goal scorer called his nose area a big mess.
"I had surgery to straighten out the septum. It was broken in seven different places, said Lucic at LeLacheur Park in Lowell promoting his NMTW Rock and Jock Celebrity Softball Game at the home of the Lowell Spinners on Aug. 24 that benefits Celebrities for Charity. The first three days getting over it were pretty horrible, but Im breathing normally now. So Ill be good for camp.
Lucic said he was actually gasping for breathe at times during the playoffs because he couldnt breathe out of his left nostril due to the severe break within his nose. One thing Lucic didnt fix, however, was the prominent Serbian character in his beak thats always characterized No. 17.
He might be scoring more goals, but hes also still fighting and throwing body checks. Looch certainly hasnt gone Hollywood with his nose surgery.
"I didn't want to go with the pretty Brad Pitt look, he said, laughing. I wanted to keep the Lucic look going. Its the strong facial features.
So with that taken care of, Lucic is off to Edmonton for Johnny Boychuks wedding this weekend before getting ready for his time with the Stanley Cup in his home city of Vancouver. Lucic plans to take the Cup to his high school and the Agrodome rink where he learned to skate in East Vancouver, before hiking it up to the top of Mount Grouse that overlooks the city of Vancouver.
When we won the Memorial Cup we all took pictures with it on top of Mount Grouse, and thats actually the picture thats in the background on my laptop, said Lucic. I always told my family that someday Id replace that with a Stanley Cup photo on top of Mount Grouse, and now I can go out and do that. Itll be great.
Lucic has enjoyed almost a month of celebration since winning the Cup, and has had plenty of time to think about what transpired during the 24 playoff games that started against the Habs and ended with celebrations on the ice in Vancouver after Game 7. Lucic said he felt compelled to thank the fans that have approached him with gratitude after bringing the Cup back to Boston.
He also had some interesting thoughts about when he felt the turning point within the playoffs arrived. It wasnt against the Canucks or during a hard-fought seven games against the Tampa Bay Lightning but instead came against the Habs when Boston was immediately pushed to the wall with two home losses to start the series.
The Bruins won Game 3 at the Bell Centre, escaped to Lake Placid for a couple of days away from the Habs hue and cry and then battled back after falling behind in Game 4. A fluke Andrew Ference bomb from the high point closed the Bruins within a 3-2 score in the game at the Bell Centre, and Ference famously flashed the unintentional bird to the Canadiens-friendly crowd as he skated in to celebrate with his approaching teammates.
It was that goal combined with the accompanying show of defiance which Ference later said was an equipment malfunction with his glove that gave Lucic the inspiration that the Bruins wouldnt lose the series, or any other series moving forward as they tore through the Eastern Conference.
I know he probably doesn't want to get this brought up, said Lucic with the slight hint of a chuckle. "But looking back to Game 4 against Montreal, we were down 3-1, and Andrew Ference scored that goal to make it 3-2. It was kind of a lucky bounce that went our way.
He just took a hard slap shot at it that went high glove and his finger got caught in his glove during his celebration.
Lucic laughingly agreed that it was an unintentional bird, but said the goal and gesture gave Boston something to rally around when they needed it most.
It was kind of that moment, when he scored that goal, where I felt that it showed our resiliency and our passion, Lucic said. It showed that we weren't going to give up. We knew we had something special here.
The Bs power forward was obviously inspired by his Bruins teammate, and there were plenty of iconic moments that followed for Lucic, Ference and the rest of his Bruins teammates en route to Cup glory.
From the press release regarding Lucic's charity event:
"The second annual Milan Lucic Rock and Jock Softball Game will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. at LeLacheur Park in Lowell with the athletes (The Jock Team) taking on popular radio and television personalities (The Rock Team). Proceeds from the event will benefit NMTWs Charitable Partners through the Celebrities for Charity Foundation. General admissions tickets are only 10 apiece and are available at www.rockandjocksoftball.org. Tickets are also available for purchase at any NMTW location in Lowell, Haverhill, Danvers and Framingham.
"Additionally one fan will win a charity raffle that will allow the winner to play in the Rock and Jock Softball Game, enjoy photo ops with Lucic and the players and get four VIP tickets to the game. The online raffle is being hosted by Celebrities for Charity Foundations patented technology at www.netraffle.org. Tickets cost just 2 each with a minimum purchase of five tickets and ticket prices are discounted for purchases of ten or more tickets. The raffle is open now and closes on Monday, August 22, 2011 at 10 a.m."