(Source: ThePlayersTribune.com) – “In five years, I went from walking in the room thinking Johnny friggin’ Bucyk was just some random team employee, to carrying the Stanley friggin’ Cup around the North End.  That’s a lot of growing up.  I became a man in Boston.  I had a family in Boston.  But everything comes to an end.” – Milan Lucic


You’ll always have the memories.  The honeymoon stage, parties, and good times.  Of course there’s the fights and disappointments that stay in the back of your mind too.  But overall, you can look back at the relationship and see why it ended.  It just ran it’s course.

Until you see each other for the first time since the breakup.

Suddenly, the ex looks great.  The ex looks happy.  And he, or she, is doing really well in a new environment and it reminds you of what you had and that maybe, just maybe, it didn’t need to end.  It’s easy to feel good about a breakup when you’re both far apart and don’t see each other all that often.  Does absence really make the heart grow fonder?

Man, the ex looks good tonight.

That’s kind of how Tuesday night will feel in Boston when the Los Angeles Kings roll into the TD Garden sitting atop the Pacific Division.  They’ll have the productive and hungry Milan Lucic playing on their side in his first game in Boston since the Bruins dumped him out west.

Your ex is in the building.  How will you handle it?

The Lucic breakup is a lot different than the Tyler Seguin breakup.  With Seguin he was the hot young one that was a fun and wild headache you let go because you both were in different places at the time.  Looking back, both sides could have done more to make it work but maybe it never would have worked?  You were on the rebound from Phil Kessel.  It was a one night stand.

The Lucic breakup was emotional.  There was serious give and take commitment from both sides to benefit each other and it was successful.  It wasn’t reckless and wild.  It was sincere and passionate and both were on the same page.  It just got to a point where they’d outgrown each other.  The fans were deeply invested in Milan Lucic as he stood for everything that they believed in, the product they wanted to see, and he personified the fire New Englanders have for hockey.

It’s going to be weird to see #17 in black, silver, and white ripping around the Garden ice.  He’s put up a nice 30 points (12 goals) with L.A. this year and leads the Kings in hits with 172 on the season.  He’s doing what he does best.

It’s mostly going to be hard to see Lucic do his thing because there have been a lot of times this year where his ferocious physicality and intimidation were missed.  The home loss to Vancouver, the home loss to Columbus, the collapse against Toronto, the collapse against Buffalo.  There’s an element to those games that Lucic would have brought to the table to fight against those meltdowns.  It may not have worked every time but it was a strong weapon the Bruins could wield.

Matt Beleskey has given the Bruins that kind of energy but he is not beloved entirely by the fans; yet.  He doesn’t have the instant awe inspiring cache, or that giant imposing stature on skates that generates emotion throughout the Garden.  He doesn’t have that 2011 Stanley Cup ring that can buy him some leeway.  And he won’t scare the other team like #17 could.  But Beleskey is certainly doing a great job of bringing it every single night regardless.  That’s something we can all agree Lucic couldn’t do.

There’s valid arguments on both sides of the relationship as to whether Lucic should still be a Bruin or if it was right to move him.  Personally, I agreed with the move and still do.  Chiarelli built an expensive mess in Boston and that had to be fixed.  Moving Lucic was the most logical initial step on the way to salary cap repair and he brought the Bruins a huge return (Colin Miller, a 2015 1st round pick used on Jakub Zboril, and an upcoming 2016 1st round draft pick).

I’ll always miss Milan Lucic.  He was the definition of the “don’t poke the bear” big bad Bruin.  Even when he was bad (and it could be real bad…), or pummeling a tough guy, or running Ryan Miller, or sparking a Game 7 comeback, everything was memorable.  But the time was right to end the relationship.

Even if it means it will be awkward seeing the ex Tuesday night for the first time since the breakup.