Milan Lucic has offered a lengthy apology to the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens' organizations and their fans for the obscene gesture he made Thursday night in Montreal that earned him a US$5,000 fine from the NHL.
Lucic took a penalty late in the Bruins' loss and then made a gesture toward the fans followed by one of him raising an invisible Stanley Cup. In his first public comments since the incident, he expressed regret and called his actions selfish and inexcusable.
"Obviously not proud of what I did there," Lucic said Saturday after the Bruins' morning skate at First Niagara Center. "Just want to apologize to our organization for embarrassing the Bruins' organization. Also want to apologize to our fans and also apologize to the Montreal Canadiens' organization and to the Canadiens' fans. I know they can get under your skin sometimes, but they are great fans."
Lucic was penalized for boarding Canadiens defenceman Alexei Emelin with 1:20 to go and the Bruins trailing by a goal. The big winger and coach Claude Julien said they disagreed with the call because Emelin turned away from Lucic before getting hit.
Julien was not pleased with how Lucic then let his emotions get the best of him with the Bell Centre crowd.
"He's upset because he's hurt his team right now. I get that," Julien said. "I just think where he lost his composure was where the fans got to him. That's all. The rest I can live with. It's an emotional game, you're upset because you feel it's a bad call at that time of the game and it probably takes away the chances of your team of tying the game up. I guess let's look at the real issue, and it was the issue (of) the way he dealt with the fans."
Lucic said the penalty and seeing fans react drove him over the edge. After Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau scored an empty-netter with 20 seconds left Lucic said something to an official after leaving the penalty box and was given a 10-minute misconduct.
"The Montreal crowd can get under your skin sometimes, but also they are great fans and they're what make the game fun," the Vancouver native said. "It's what makes it great to be an athlete and a hockey player is to play in an atmosphere like that and in a rivalry like that. I've just got to do a better job of controlling my emotions."
This is not the first time Lucic has lost his composure and run afoul of the NHL. In last year's playoffs, he speared Detroit Red Wings defenceman Danny DeKeyser in the groin, which also led to a $5,000 fine.
Each penalty was the most allowed under the collective bargaining agreement. In this case, the league's hockey operations department ruled on the punishment instead of player safety.
Lucic has earned a reputation for playing on the edge and crossing the line.
"Hopefully this will be the last time that we're talking about controlling my emotions, not letting them get out of control," Lucic said. "Another lesson learned."
Julien agreed that Lucic needs to work on managing his emotions. But as expected, he defended the 26-year-old's character.
"I like him as a person, he's a great person away from the game where the emotions get the better of him, and he's a great teammate," Julien said. "He's apologized and I think he was genuine. In us dealing internally with it, he felt remorseful, and that's the Milan Lucic that we know as being the good person that he is."