Lucic punches Avs’ Zadorov in Flames debut


The James NealMilan Lucic trade is still a little hard to believe, but it did in fact happen. While Neal had a quiet debut in the Edmonton Oilers’ narrow win on Wednesday, Lucic made an impact in the Calgary Flames’ season-opener against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.

You won’t find a consensus about Lucic having a positive impact, though.

After Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov delivered a hard hit on Austin Czarnik, Lucic confronted Zadorov. During the exchange, Lucic punched Zadorov, who didn’t seem to see it coming.

Was it a “sucker punch?” Was Lucic merely sticking up for his teammate? Maybe it was something in between?

Either way, Lucic was whistled with a fighting major, instigator penalty, and a misconduct. Zadorov was somewhat strangely given a fighting major and a boarding penalty.

One can debate the “deterrent” factor of a player like Lucic all day, but ultimately it really is that: a subjective discussion.

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James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.