The nicest thing you can say about Milan Lucic is that you definitely know who he is and the second-nicest thing you can say about him it's somewhat easy to forget that he's been suspended twice by the NHL.
I don't know what the reason for this is because, with a gun to my head, I would have said that no, he has never been suspended. Which was dumb on my part, as, when you're dealing with the Boston Bruins, it's better to err on the side of "Yes, that guy has definitely been suspended." Maybe it's because he ran Ryan Miller over like he was the bed in the Enter Sandman video, and walked away laughing, with not even a fine from the NHL. And maybe it's because he's spent so much time being invisible or actively bad this season that it's easy to forget he was once considered something of a menace, and indeed is a former 30-goal scorer.
Of course, the 30-goal-scoring Milan Lucic is a few years and probably a few dozen pounds in the past, but nonetheless the spectre of the actual, scary Bruins wing is itself somewhat inflated by the general haziness of hockey fans' memory. Ah yes, he was once considered a fearsome middle-weight pugilist, but based on what? He's been in 45 career fights, that's true enough, but against guys who usually aren't considered fighters. He had a career high 13 scraps in his rookie year, against guys like Brad Winchester, Mark Bell, John Erskine, Barret Jackman and Jarkko Ruutu. Not exactly the Smokin' Joe Fraziers of the NHL.
But he really earned his reputation in the first fight of the next season, when he beat the absolute Christ out of Mike Komisarek and essentially broke him as a hockey player, a fact Maple Leafs fans learned all too well when Brian Burke went out and gave him That Contract. Now, let's be real here: Mike Komisarek is about the 475th-most impressive player to beat the Christ out of in any given NHL season, despite the fact that he stands at 6-foot-5 and looks like he should be able to punch people in the face somewhat effectively — users of HockeyFights.com adjudged Komisarek to have won a whopping two of his 10 NHL regular-season fights since Lucic fed him his lunch all those years ago — and it leads one to wonder if Lucic sacked up and asked true heavyweights like Brian Gionta and Andrei Kostitsyn to go first.
But again, that was the old Lucic. The one now only fights guys when they get between him and the nearest buffet table. Oh, right, I should explain that Lucic showed up to the Bruins' players preseason camp hilariously out of shape, as he reportedly had to take a knee after just a few line rushes, and was sucking so much wind Andrew Ference tried to install him in a third-world village to provide residents with electricity. This Globe story says he showed up at his playing weight — ahem, 220 pounds — but based on the early performances much of that was the result of a summer and autumn spent eating Doritos Locos tacos like a Morgan Spurlock without the documentarian intent.
This was, as you might expect of a Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruin, explained away by the sycophantic media as the result of his wife having spent the lockout with child. Sympathy weight is rule for schlubbos who punch a clock and watch Two and a Half Men, I suppose, but when you're a professional athlete, you shouldn't get a pass on showing up looking like a Hutt in search of a sail barge, no matter how much resembled Salacious Crumb. But the extents to which these scribes will go to make apologies for whatever these guys do is obviously legendary. To do it, they'll move heaven and Earth-sized left wings with seven goals this season.