In just his second NHL season, Milan Lucic leaped up the depth chart to the Boston Bruins’ first line, threw a hit that put a player through the glass and will be replayed on every reel for decades to come, and was a major piece of the first Bruins team to win a playoff series in 10 years.
This offseason, things got even better with Lucic’s invitation to Hockey Canada’s Olympic orientation camp in Calgary last month. But despite the star treatment, Lucic isn’t letting his work ethic wane as training camp 2009 approaches.
“I think you have to have that mentality that you have to work hard to fight for your spot on the team,” Lucic said after an informal practice in Wilmington, Mass. “I think that that’s the way you want to approach it and that’s the way I’m looking at it. You can’t take anything for granted.”
Offseason tidbit: Lucic said he accounted for himself well at the Hockey Canada camp. Even if he doesn’t make the team, he at least got to room with NHL veteran Ryan Smyth and pick his brain for how to become the next “Captain Canada.”
Position battle: With Marco Sturm back healthy and Mark Recchi here for a full season, Lucic will be challenged to hang onto the coveted spot next to playmaker Marc Savard. Lucic will also try to earn some power-play minutes, maybe on the second unit as a screener in front of the net.
Projection: The way Lucic has improved his first two seasons in the NHL, and knowing his work ethic, there’s no reason to believe that he won’t boost his numbers — even if, as I expect, he won’t be on the No. 1 line as much this time around.