If there’s one thing we know about breakups, it’s that they can be messy.
They can take a while, and leave many feelings of animosity between respective people and parties.
And the breakup between Milan Lucic and the Edmonton Oilers still continues to spill out into the public.
In advance of last night’s Battle of Alberta — the first of the year and the first time Lucic returned to Edmonton — Sportsnet’s Eric Francis wrote about Milan’s steps to regaining his old form. But nestled in there was a quiet jab from Lucic about the way he was used in Edmonton.
“I just feel like I’m more myself on a day-to-day basis,” said Lucic, who is the first to point out he’s still got plenty of room to grow as a Flame. “I’m building blocks to recapture (my form). All in all, I’m enjoying myself again and I’m enjoying playing hockey again and I’m enjoying everything you should enjoy playing the NHL again.
“I’m not blaming the city of Edmonton, I’m not blaming the fans, I’m not blaming my teammates there and I’m not even blaming my coaches there, even though I could sit here and tell you maybe I wasn’t used correctly in this situation or I wish I could have played more with this guy over that guy.
“I’m not here faulting anyone – I just think my whole mindset is back to just enjoying it again and having fun.”
It’s a curious quote from Lucic, who if you remember, was a boat anchor to Connor McDavid’s speed boat for more time than was necessary.
In fact, Lucic spent more time with McDavid (969:58 TOI) at 5v5 than any other forward in Edmonton. The pair had above average shot and goal rates paired together, but that was all in thanks to speed boat McDavid, rather than boat anchor Lucic. Even his next most common forward linemate at 5v5 was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Lucic had great linemates on the powerplay, too, playing the whopping majority of his time with McDavid and Draisaitl. Who could Lucic wish he played more?
I’m not sure if Lucic’s comments were taken out of context in an article that never references the comment again, or if it’s Lucic taking a shot at the Oilers for how they managed him?
James Neal himself had some choice words in a similar article written by Sportsnet’s Mark Spector.
“Getting that chance to play a lot more is the biggest thing. Being surrounded by a lot of great players who are helping me out too,” Neal said. “(In Calgary) I felt like I wasn’t getting that chance, and as a player you just want that chance. I got that here and it’s worked out well.”
Nonetheless, the Oilers are better off with James Neal instead of Lucic, while the Flames appear to be happy with the trade from their end. And I guess at the end of the day, that’s really what matters.
On Twitter: @zjlaing