Milan Lucic is the master of deferring and delegating responsibility. He's called Alexei Emelin a chicken for applying a textbook hip check, but denied spearing him in the groin, in the face of indisputable video evidence. Days later, after getting caught again, this time on Danny DeKeyser, he glossed over it, saying he admitted to it, but not dealing with the initial staunch denial. He then proceeded to spear Alex Emelin again in the playoffs. As Kurt Vonnegut would comment, so it goes...
This weekend, he gave a faux, half-hearted apology, one we'd characterize as "du bout des lèvres", meaning that it came from the very tip of the lips, rather than deep within, from the heart, for getting caught making an obscene gesture to the fans at the New Forum and getting fined for it. So not necessarily owning up to it, but admitting he'd been caught, he kind of grudgingly played the game, but didn't necessarily appear to be chastened by it. He gave us the 'learning lesson' platitude, but really, didn't the hundred or so previous incidents serve as lessons, and fail to correct his behaviour?
David Pratt of TSN 1040 in Vancouver would have none of it on Monday morning, and spent a segment of the "Bro Jake Show" tearing Mr. Lucic’s head off. He stated that the Bruin forward is always blaming others: the media, the city of Vancouver, Dale Weise, the fans in Montréal. He opined, without supplying any evidence, that the money and lifestyle aren’t helping Milan, that his life is spinning out of control. Which has been our analysis here at Relentless Ineptitude.
Here are some quotes from Mr. Pratt, as best they could be transcribed:
“He’s great, a great player, plays the Bruins’ game, had tremendous success as a Vancouver Giant. I want him to succeed.”
“I’m tired of the fans, the Bruins, the NHL, making excuses for him.”
“He embarrassed the Bruins, the NHL, the game with his disgusting move in Montréal.”
This is where the rogue organization that is the Bruins failed him. They’ve encouraged this type of behaviour for years from him and his teammates, or at least tolerated it. Andrew Ference, Zdeno Chara, Mr. Lucic, they’ve all crossed the line and been ‘supported’ by their coach, their GM, and team president Cam Neely.
If the Bruins had snapped to it with Andrew Ference’s glove malfunction, if they’d made him apologize appropriately, genuinely, and maybe sat him out one game, they’d have sent a message to their team that they are expected to play hard, tough, but fair, and with a spirit of sportsmanship and fair-play. Same with Zdeno Chara punching Sidney Crosby in his recently healed broken jaw, and a myriad other instances too long to review.
Last spring, after the handshake line fiasco, Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli awkwardly sat at a table and pretended to tell the assembled media that they hadn’t viewed any video of the incident and were in no position to comment. As if viewing that very video wasn’t the first thing they did. As if they were too busy contacting the beer distributor after their aborted post-season to cancel deliveries to attend to mundane things like the team and on-ice performance. Like it escaped their attention somehow.
The Bruins could have prevented this latest incident caused by Milan Lucic by very clearly and forcefully making him apologize about his threats during the handshake line and his conduct, and making him understand that such behaviour wouldn’t be tolerated, that he best save that famous competitiveness for when it counted, during a game. Instead, they waffled and let him off the hook and dissembled for him.
Accountability just isn’t the M.O. of the Bruins. Violence, intimidation and lawlessness is. As explained by a Gazette reporter, pre-game videos meant to pump up the fans in attendance at the New Gardens aren’t of goals or great saves, but almost exclusively of fights and concussive hits and instances of thuggery. They have a shill and manipulator in Jack Goebbels Edwards as their play-by-play man to fan the flames of excess.
So Cam Neely and his henchmen have kind of painted themselves into a corner, trading away Tyler Séguin for disciplinary reasons, but allowing Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand and Shawn Thornton and Greg Campbell to fester. And now that there’s a possible movement afoot to change the culture, it may come too late for them. And for Milan Lucic, who is very far down a path that means big trouble for him.
And Milan, giving an easy apology second-hand to a pool reporter in this age of Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and NBC-Comcast doesn’t cut it, it’s as meaningless as Andrew Ference coming clean a year later about his middle finger not being quite so accidental.