Flames’ Milan Lucic considered retiring after November benching: ‘It just wasn’t fun for me anymore’

first_imgOver the course of 58 games, he has tallied six goals and 17 points — which, while they would be career-lows if the season ended today, is the same number of goals he posted in 79 games last year in Edmonton. But the 2011 Stanley Cup champion wasn’t necessarily brought in to bury the puck. His top attribute is the physical presence he brings as a power forward — he leads the team with 161 hits — along with creating space for the playmakers on his line.Back in November, however, Lucic was suspended two games for roughing when he punched the Blue Jackets’ Kole Sherwood. More recently, his lack of participation in the fisticuffs portion of the ‘Battle of Alberta,’ coupled in with the team’s overall struggles, put a massive bullseye on Lucic.MORE: Flames look to add scoring, defense at the NHL trade deadlineDespite all that, the fact that he disclosed he considered retiring during the season — at just 31 — on Sportsnet’s ‘After Hours’ with Scott Oake and Louie DeBrusk was shocking.”There was times where, the start for me things weren’t going so well,” he said following the Flames’ 8-4 thrashing by the visiting Chicago Blackhawks, when asked if he felt pressure to show it was a good trade for the Flames. “I think after about six, seven weeks into the season I remember playing, the first time we played St. Louis here on a ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ game, I got benched in the third period and nothing was said to me by anyone and I wasn’t really happy about it and I even started questioning whether I should hang them up because it just wasn’t fun for me anymore.”It had nothing to do with James Neal having success, I just think for myself it was just really hard and especially when you’re getting benched and no one is saying anything to you.”Milan Lucic joined @ScottOake and @LouDeBrusk to talk about being a veteran leader on a younger Flames team.https://t.co/UEUvEbuLRK— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 16, 2020The game Lucic is referencing was a 3-2 overtime loss to the Blues on Nov. 9 where he only skated for 9 minutes and 23 seconds and played just two shifts in the third. Entering that game, Lucic averaged more than 12 minutes a game, but had only tallied three assists; the matchup against the Blues was his second game back from the suspension. Two games prior to that St. Louis game, against Columbus, he played a season-low 8 minutes and 36 seconds, which was the third time he played fewer than 10 minutes in the first 16 games of the season. Questions have swirled around Milan Lucic for months — maybe even years — about whether he can still compete at a high level in the NHL. It certainly didn’t help that the last 10 months or so have been a rollercoaster affair for the 13-year league veteran.In July, the rugged winger was traded from the Edmonton Oilers about three hours south, to the Calgary Flames, in a 1-for-1 swap for James Neal. While Neal began the season red-hot with nine goals in his first eight games, it took Lucic a little longer to get settled in with his new surroundings. It should be noted that Bill Peters, who never seemed to find the right fit for Lucic, was the head coach at the time of the benching. In continuation of his answer on ‘After Hours,’ Lucic spoke about how interim head coach Geoff Ward and his teammates brought him back from the brink of retirement.”I have to give a lot of credit to Geoff Ward, the other three coaches and all my teammates for kinda sticking with me and keeping me motivated. Especially (Mark Giordano) and (Sean) Monahan, two guys that I’ve really been close with since I got here. They’ve kept me going and they’ve managed to pump me up and I talked about (Dillon Dube) and what it’s meant to play with him and the life he’s given me.””So, yeah I’m having fun again, especially playing for Wardo, I had so much success with him in Boston for seven years and you know what, he’s meant a lot to me this year. Same with (general manager Brad Treliving). He’s kept me going and kept me motivated and that’s why I’m doing everything to make this trade work. Not only for the team but for the city and the fans as well.”last_img

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