Lucic: ‘It’s not like I hate the people of Montreal’

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On Thursday night, Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic will enter Montreal’s Bell Centre for his 37th career regular season game against the Canadiens.

But following his last meeting with the storied rival, Lucic knows he needs to keep his cool.

In the final minutes of Boston’s 6-4 loss on Oct. 16, Lucic was assessed a boarding penalty and on his way to the box, made a lewd gesture and a cup raising motion. Upon exiting, he proceeded to argue the penalty and was assessed a misconduct and shown the gate.

He was subsequently fined $5,000 for his antics in Montreal – the maximum allowed under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Lucic said following last month’s incident, Bruins’ President and Alternate Governor, Cam Neely, had a conversation with him.

“He understands there comes times when you can lose your cool and stuff like that,” Lucic said of the conversation, “but you have to suck it up and not react in a way like that where you’re doing something like that.

“That was kind of the main message that he had.”

For the 26-year-old, the incident at the Bell Centre was the epitome of his season to that point. Lucic said he’s struggled with his confidence in the early going following offseason surgery to his left wrist.

“It’s not like I was worried too much about that before,” said Lucic of worrying about his play between the whistles. “But coming off the injury and it being a wrist injury, (I was) questioning whether it was 100 percent and a little hesitant to go into the corners and all that type of stuff.”

Through 17 games, Lucic, a left-handed shot, says he’s still feeling the effects of the surgery especially when it comes to shooting the puck. However, a meeting with Chris Stewart and the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 30 has helped steer things in the right direction.

Lucic finished the night with two shots on goal, four hits, the fight and a minus-1 rating while logging 18:03 in ice time during Boston’s 3-2 win over the Sabres.

“That was a good test,” Lucic said of his first fight of the season. “Had a couple hits and got hit a couple times and everything was fine and I was able to just kind of relax and start playing my game again.”

Since his last trip to Montreal, Lucic has three goals and four assists in 11 games. He was pointless and a minus-1 prior to the visit to Montreal.

In 36 career games against the Habs, Lucic has seven goals and 10 assists to along with 92 penalty minutes.

Lucic knows the building will be electric tonight.

“It’s just the nature of the rivalry and there’s a lot of hatred between the two teams. Obviously being in the same division and the way that the playoff standings work now, you’re fighting for every point and every divisional game means that much more,” he said. “Since I’ve been in the league, I’ve played them four times in the playoffs and I think that adds to it as well.”

Lucic infamously got into a verbal altercation with Canadiens players in the handshake line following Boston’s seven game second-round loss to Montreal last spring.

“I do enjoy going there, it’s fun, it’s part of being a competitor,” Lucic said. “It’s great to be a part of rivalries like that. It’s not like I hate the city and it’s not like I hate the people of Montreal. Its just when you’re on the ice, it’s a different animal than when you’re off the ice.”

With a young family to consider, the Vancouver native admits he’s begun thinking of pending contract negotiations.

Lucic has one more season after this on his three-year, $18 million contract. Afterward, he’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. Lucic’s agent and the Bruins aren’t allowed to begin negotiations until next summer under the new rules in the CBA.

“I’d be lying if I told you that I hadn’t thought about it, but I’m just… I think the best way to think about it, is not to think about it and just focus on taking care of things on the ice,” said Lucic. “If you play well and do your thing on the ice, the contract stuff will take care of itself.

“I’m just focused on having a good season this season this year and good season next year and we’ll see what happens. My plans are to remain a Bruin and I hope it goes that way.”

Could Lucic see himself in another jersey?

“It would be tough… I think it would be tough,” he said.

What about the Red, White and Blue of the Canadiens?

“Never… I don’t think so… I don’t think so about that,” said Lucic chuckling. “Crazier things have happened. Who knows what the future holds.”

Trade: Montreal acquires Gonchar from Dallas for Moen

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The Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens have teammed for a relatively large move — the Stars have sent veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar to the Habs in exchange for checking forward Travis Moen.

For Montreal, Gonchar could be looked upon to spark the club’s woeful power play. It’s the third-worst unit in the NHL at 7.7 percent and Gonchar, while getting on in age, is still a quality puck-mover with offensive ability. The move with also reunites him with head coach Michel Therrien — the two spent four seasons together in Pittsburgh — and gives the Canadiens three Russians on defense (along with Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin.)

For Dallas, Moen brings physicality and grittiness to a team mired in a seven-game losing streak, and has extensive experience playing in the Western Conference from his time with Chicago, San Jose and Anaheim (helping the latter to a Stanley Cup in 2007).

“Travis is a proven forward that does all the gritty things needed to win,” Stars GM Jim Nill said in a release. “He brings leadership and experience to our forward group and will be an important part of our penalty kill.”

It’s also worth noting Dallas reportedly tried to deal Gonchar this summer, per Morning-News scribe Mike Heika:

I was almost 100 percent sure that [Stars GM] Jim Nill would find a way to move Sergei Gonchar before the summer was over, but it looks like that could be more difficult than I imagined.

Even with the team willing to eat half of his $5 million salary (the maximum allowed under the new CBA), the Stars could not find a trade partner for the 40-year-old defenseman.

Speaking of eating salary, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Dallas will retain eight percent of Gonchar’s salary in the Montreal deal.

Update:

In the end, this deal may have simply been about Dallas looking to get out from under the Gonchar contract. It was one of Nill’s first big moves after taking the GM gig and, eventually, proved to be arguably his worst; hopes were high the 40-year-old Russian could come in and provide a stabilizing presence on Dallas’ back end, but it never came to be.

Speaking of contracts, it’s worth noting that Moen has this season and the next remaining on his four-year, $7.4 million deal — one that carries a $1.85M annual cap hit.

Gonchar, meanwhile, will become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Montreal places veteran Rene Bourque on waivers

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There was a time when Rene Bourque was seen as a capable top-six forward and while the 32-year-old has struggled over the last few years, he did score eight goals and 11 points in 17 games during the 2014 playoffs. He hasn’t been effective this season though and that’s led to the Montreal Canadiens putting Bourque on waivers, per TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie.

Bourque is in the fifth season of his six-year, $20 million contract. Under the old CBA, the Canadiens could rid themselves of his cap hit by storing him in the minors, but now his average annual salary will still partially count against the cap even if he’s playing in the AHL.

Prior to being waived, he was listed as a healthy scratch for two straight games. He has just two assists and a team-worst minus-nine rating while averaging 12:20 minutes per contest in 13 games in 2014-15.

Montreal also called up Jarred Tinordi and returned Drayson Bowman to AHL Hamilton.

Video: Canadiens retire Guy Lapointe’s No. 5 jersey

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The Montreal Canadiens, the most famed and historic of all the National Hockey League franchises, retired Guy Lapointe’s No. 5 jersey to the rafters at the Bell Centre on Saturday.

The ceremony took place prior to puck drop between the host Habs and visiting Minnesota Wild.

From The Canadian Press:

Lapointe’s will be the 18th Habs jersey to be retired and marks the last of the Big Three defencemen from the Habs’ juggernaut team of the 1970s to get the honour — Serge Savard’s No. 18 was retired in 2006 and Larry Robinson’s No. 19 in 2007.

“I’ve been thinking about this every day ever since (Canadiens owner) Geoff Molson told me about it in June,” said Lapointe, as per The Canadian Press.

Montreal snaps three-game skid with SO win over Sabres

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It wasn’t Montreal’s best game, but they managed to come away with two points in a 2-1 shootout victory over Buffalo.

The Canadiens needed to stop the bleeding after dropping their last three games, but outside of shootouts they haven’t won since Oct. 25. Their early season inability to finish games before the shootout might hurt later on as right now they would lose in a tiebreaker to division rivals Tampa Bay, Detroit, and Boston if it came down to ROW (regulation and overtime wins). They also haven’t scored more than two goals in any of their last six games.

Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau was the team’s offensive leader tonight, breaking the scoreless tie early in the third period and then beating Sabres goaltender Michal Neuvirth on the deciding goal of the shootout.

Goaltender Dustin Tokarski deserves a lot of credit for this win though as he turned aside 31 of 32 shots in regulation. Although Montreal has used him sparingly, he’s provided the Canadiens with quality starts whenever Carey Price needs a breather.

With this loss, Buffalo has now fallen to 3-9-2 this season.