BOSTON (CBS) - Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic joined 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher & Rich on Friday, and said despite the NHL's current labor dispute, he and the rest of his team are preparing for the season to start on time.
"I think we all are. I think everyone on the team is training like it's going to start September 21, as camp is expected," Lucic told T&R.
"Everything is very economical," Lucic said of the dispute, where the players simply want to keep their share of a league that has enjoyed growing popularity.
"There are a lot of popular big market teams that have been in the Cup. I heard a stat that us against the Canucks was one of, if not the most watched Stanley Cup finals in NHL history. When you look at the stats, it has grown as a game and as players we recognize that," he said. "We want nothing more than to watch it to grow; that's where we're at as players."
The Bruins had a much longer off-season this year than they did following their 2011 Stanley Cup championship, and are hoping it doesn't get extended due to a lockout. And while Lucic and his teammates have enjoyed the extra time to rest up and get healthy, it's just added to the itch to get back on the ice.
"It's a big difference. You go from, it almost felt like you played two seasons into one. It felt like one big baseball season that took two years in hockey. Now you've had our chance to heal any bumps or bruises, any nagging injuries that have been going on," said Lucic. "When it's a long offseason, especially coming off a year things didn't go so great in the playoffs, and the year before you won and get that feeling of winning, you get more of an itch to get back playing. We were at Greg Campbell's wedding in Toronto and the guys from the team were there saying they couldn't wait to get back playing. It's a good thing to hear them feel that way and I'm feeling it too."
Lucic watched the Los Angeles Kings during their run to the Stanley Cup this summer, which just added to the itch.
"You get more of that itch. Once you see them celebrating, you start thinking 'I remember that feeling.' It kind of pisses you off to see them," he said. "That was our cup, we want it back. The itch comes back into play when you want things to start up again."
Lucic is expecting to have his linemate Nathan Horton back when the Bruins do eventually hit the ice. Horton played in just 46 games last season while recovering from a concussion, but has been cleared to return to the ice and is expected to be back for 2012.
That is music to Lucic's ears, who doesn't think Horton will need much time to get back into a groove.
"He says he's feeling good... Of all the guys I've played with in my five years in the NHL he's probably the most naturally talented and gifted player," Lucic said of Horton. "I don't think it's going to take him much to get back to his full form just because he's got that naturally gifted talent."
Lucic is be hosting a "Rock 'N Jock" softball game at LeLacheur Park in Lowell next Wednesday. Many of his teammates, along with Fred and Rich, are all participating.
"What's cool for us is we get to see all you guys who critique us in sports, we get to see you guys play a little bit of sports," said Lucic.
"Yeah guess what, you're better," said Fred.
Lucic also recently joined the Twitter universe (you can follow him @MilanLucic4). He's gotten plenty of followers in just a few days, but with that also comes a few followers that aren't fans.
"I've gotten some haters that have kind of pissed me off and I've wanted to react to them," said Lucic. "There are some Buffalo fans that are still mad about the Ryan Miller thing."
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