BOSTON – Bruins forward Milan Lucic knows what the league is trying to do and understood the reason for his one-game suspension despite the fact that he didn’t totally agree with it.
Lucic sat out Monday night’s game against Montreal because he was suspended without pay by the NHL for hitting Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo from behind and into the boards in the second period of a 6-0 win on Saturday.
Rinaldo was driven into the glass but was not hurt.
“I think it’s good that it’s in the back of players’ mind now that the NHL just isn’t a place to just be running around recklessly anymore, and I think it’s a good thing,” Lucic said before Boston faced the Canadiens. “It’s good to see that they’re aware to keep the game safer and try to take head injuries ultimately out of the game.”
But he said he was trying to avoid hitting Rinaldo in the back.
“I did everything I could to try to get his shoulder,” he said.
Lucic received a five-minute major for the hit and a game misconduct. By being suspended, he forfeited $22,072.07. He is eligible to return Friday night against Florida.
NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan called the Lucic hit dangerous and cited his background of similar infractions, warnings and a fine.
“While this hit is not particularly egregious, it is illegal,” Shanahan said in a video posted on nhl.com.
Boston GM Peter Chiarelli said he knew going into the season that the league may watch the Bruins a bit more closely. Boston used its physical play last season to beat Vancouver in the Stanley Cup finals.
“We went into the year with the new rule changes thinking that we were going to be a little more scrutinized,” he said. “We might have even played a heavier game in the playoffs, and, again, people were clamouring that we got away with stuff, and maybe we did and maybe we didn’t.”
Lucic levelled Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller in a game back in November, but wasn’t suspended or fined for the hit. Miller had come out of the net to take away a potential breakaway.
Chiarelli felt that the league took the history of a Lucic’s actions into account before handing down the suspension this time.
“What was explained to me was that when there have been incidents before with a player, they look at the whole body of work,” he said.