Lucic checks in during busy offseason

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Lucic checks in during busy offseason

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."

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.