NHL free agency

Milan Lucic excited to rejoin Bruins, chase a championship again in Boston

"I’m just so happy and thankful for the opportunity to be a Bruin again."

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More than 50 NHL players switched teams Saturday after free agency kicked off at noon ET, and it's hard to imagine any of them being more excited to join their new team than Milan Lucic.

He couldn't stop smiling in a Zoom interview with reporters Saturday afternoon.

"Having the opportunity to come back, you can see the smile on my face right now," Lucic said. "It feels like I’m going home. It’s always felt like I’ve been a Bruin, and I’m just so happy and thankful for the opportunity to be a Bruin again. Can’t thank Don (Sweeney) enough for reaching out and making me a Bruin again."

Lucic was selected by the Bruins in the second round of the 2006 NHL Draft, and he instantly became a fan favorite with his power forward style of play. He played eight seasons in Boston from 2007-08 through 2014-15, a run that included a 2011 Stanley Cup title over his hometown Vancouver Canucks.

Now Lucic is back for more, this time on a one-year contract with a $1 million base salary and $500,000 in performance-based incentives. Even though Lucic is no longer a top-six forward who's going to score between 25-30 goals, the 35-year-old veteran still believes he can make a meaningful impact and help this team win another championship.

"Obviously, you want to continue to be at your best and continue to keep building. You always try to chase a championship and you always want to win," Lucic said. "For me, that’s the main reason for playing. I was lucky and fortunate enough to experience that early in my career and experience that as a Boston Bruin, which is such a special thing. As time goes on, things change. Roles change, you change as a player and a person, that’s the thing. I’m not the same player and person who I was ten years ago. I understand that I’m going to be playing in a different role, in a new role.

"But at the end of the day, my mindset is still the same as to what I’m trying to achieve, and that’s to win a championship. That was the main reason why I reached out and wanted to play for Team Canada in the (World Championships), it’s because I wanted to win something again, and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity and got to win that gold medal in Finland this past May. That’s something I obviously want to experience again in the NHL. No better place to do it than in Boston if we can achieve that.”

Lucic projects to be the fourth-line left wing for the Bruins -- someone capable of scoring eight to 12 goals and bringing a high level of toughness and tenacity to each shift. His leadership abilities and Cup-winning experience also should prove valuable for the B's, especially if two of his former teammates -- Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci -- end up retiring.

The Bruins begin the 2023-24 regular season Oct. 11 against the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden. The ovation Lucic will receive from Bruins fans will be immense. It will be a special moment for Lucic for several reasons. Not only does he get to re-live what it's like being a Bruin, his three kids also will get to experience it for the first time.

“I’m looking forward to it really badly, because I’ve thought about this moment for the last seven years," Lucic said. "I’ve been thinking about what it would be like to put on the spoked-B, Black and Gold again. That’s why I’m so grateful for this opportunity. When you start somewhere, I don’t want to say I took it for granted, because you guys all know me. I lived it and I truly did appreciate what it meant to be a Boston Bruin and living in Boston and playing for an Original Six team and playing in front of those fans every single night.

"To get to relive that, it’s almost like I’m more grateful for it now than I was at the beginning because as time goes on, sometimes you don’t know how good things are until it’s gone. Like you said, a lot of players don’t get to have that opportunity again like I get to have. Not only that, not only for myself and the fans and the city, but I get to do this in front of my kids. My two girls were born in Boston, but they were two and newborn when I got traded. Now they’re 10, eight and five. For me, to wear the spoked-B in front of my children just adds to it all. To get to do this in front of the fans again, it’s going to mean so much, so right now I can’t wait for Oct. 11 when the first game happens in Boston.”

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