Milan Lucic has had a change of heart.
Two days after the Boston Bruins star said he was “done trying to defend” his hometown of Vancouver following a string of ugly incidents, Mr. Lucic issued a statement in which he said he wouldn’t let some people diminish his love for the city.
“As I have had more time to think, I want to make it clear that regardless of what has happened, I am still – and always will be – proud to be from there. It is home,” the statement read.
Mr. Lucic went on to say that while the actions of a few individuals have deeply upset him and will impact the amount of time he spends in downtown Vancouver, he will “not let those incidents diminish the love and pride I have for the city as a whole.”
The statement said this would be Mr. Lucic’s final comment on the subject.
An altercation between Mr. Lucic and another man on Granville Street early Sunday was caught on video and uploaded to YouTube. Mr. Lucic could be seen exchanging expletives with the man during the 55-second clip. The Bruins star later told police the man hit him two or three times, though no punches could be seen on the video.
Mr. Lucic – whose Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup final, cementing a fierce rivalry between the city where he grew up and the city where he now plays hockey – told reporters Monday he was the victim of an unprovoked attack and was exploring legal action. His statement Wednesday did not specifically address whether he is still considering such options.
A Vancouver Police spokesman earlier this week said police do have the ability to reopen or reinitiate an investigation at a victim’s request. However, the spokesman said charges were not pending.
This was not the first time Mr. Lucic, or those closest to him, were targeted by Vancouver-area residents.
In February, 2012, about eight months after the Bruins beat the Canucks in the Cup final, a church frequented by Mr. Lucic’s parents was vandalized. Someone spray-painted “Go Canuks Go” – misspelled – on the church wall and drew an image of a penis. A local graffiti removal company later painted over the mess for free.
Mr. Lucic has said his family members, including his grandparents, have also been severely harassed inside Rogers Arena, where the Canucks play.
Some Vancouverites, including former Canucks owner Arthur Griffiths, took issue with Mr. Lucic’s condemnation of the city. Mr. Griffiths said Mr. Lucic would not have reached the National Hockey League without the support of Vancouverites, and Mr. Lucic should know the majority of Canucks fans are good people.
Mr. Lucic’s comments drew sympathy from others, including a local hockey school that said no one spends more time signing autographs or taking photos than the Bruins forward.