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Bruins Notebook

Early impressions are good

Lucic is hitting all the right notes

Hockey or Twister? Bruins goalie Mike Brown watches a shot bounce off the crossbar during a scrimmage yesterday, as defenseman Matt Hunwick also eyes the puck. Hockey or Twister? Bruins goalie Mike Brown watches a shot bounce off the crossbar during a scrimmage yesterday, as defenseman Matt Hunwick also eyes the puck. (MARK WILSON/GLOBE STAFF)

He's buried back there among the wannabes in the Bruins' training camp guide, tucked inconspicuously among Mikko Lehtonen, Brad Marchand, and Adam McQuaid.

Milan Lucic, all 6 feet 4 inches and 220 pounds of him, is in the Boston camp for a second time, wondering whether the next couple of weeks will lead to full-time NHL work or a ticket back to his junior team in Vancouver for another season of fine-tuning.

"I think it went well - I don't think I was that nervous," said the hulking left wing, fresh from an hour's scrimmage among mostly veteran Bruins yesterday morning on Causeway Street. "My game was pretty simple: get the puck down low, move it along the wall. I'm pretty happy how things went."

Only 19, and with only two years of top junior hockey on his résumé, Lucic doesn't necessarily have a background that would make him a favorite to advance to the varsity. Not yet. But both coach Claude Julien and general manager Peter Chiarelli sounded duly impressed following the scrimmage.

"I liked him," said Chiarelli, who was still a member of Ottawa's management team, sitting at the Senators' table, when the Bruins made Lucic a second-round pick, 50th overall, in last year's draft. "He's big, strong, and he takes the puck to the net . . . and he didn't look out of place."

In fact, Chiarelli noticed some of the veterans on the bench reacting to Lucic's play.

"Some of the players took notice of him," said the GM. "Hey, he still has work to do. His edge work needs some help, but overall he's improved his skating."

Lucic, the MVP of the Memorial Cup this year and chosen to be captain of his junior team (Giants) this season, has worked diligently on his skating, even before he was drafted. Ideally, he would improve his lateral movement if he were to become a legitimate scoring threat in the NHL.

"Obviously, this is a little bit faster," he said. "But I felt I could keep up. I'd like to be a little stronger on the forecheck, and hopefully I'll adjust sooner rather than later."

After collecting only 19 points in his first season with the Giants, Lucic broke out last season with 30 goals and 68 points in 70 games, then added 19 more points in 22 playoff games. He also piled up 147 penalty minutes during the season, the majority of those the result of fights.

"Oh, he can fight," said Chiarelli, who too often saw his team turn away from confrontation last season. "That we know he can do."

Lucic, in fact, enjoys the sweet science, which is rare in today's softer, kinder NHL. He considers taking names and dropping gloves to be part of his responsibility, a role he embraces as part of trying to be a team leader. It's about wanting to be a presence.

"For me, it's more how I play," he said of his definition of leadership. "I think it's about giving it my all, and doing that all the time. Push myself, and push others to be better all the time. It worked [in junior], and if I'm here, I'd want to do the same. I try to bring the work ethic up, and I think that's what I bring in a leadership role."

Game on

Lucic will join the rookies today for a game against the Devils' freshmen in Shelton, Conn. Game time: 4 p.m. . . . All hands will be back on deck for a practice tomorrow in Wilmington, and the club will make its first cuts and reassignments tomorrow night, giving the coaching staff a more workable number for the start of the exhibition season Tuesday night in Newfoundland against the Islanders . . . In part because of the recommendation of Bruins icon Ray Bourque, Chiarelli over the summer signed free agent Matt Hendricks, a former St. Cloud State pivot who had 44 points last season with Hershey (AHL). Bourque's son, Christopher, was a teammate of the 215-pound center. "He has some of what we are looking for here - he's a strong, gritty player," said Chiarelli. "He had a pretty good second half with Hershey, and a good playoff run [19 games, 12 points]. He's kind of a grinder - not a lock, by any means, but he has stuff that we are looking for. He's 26 years old, and some guys show that if you stick around long enough, they'll eventually find a way."

Doing his homework

Ex-Bruins defenseman Mike Milbury, who has broadcast gigs lined up this season with NESN and NBC, watched from the stands most of the morning . . . According to Chiarelli, Mark Habscheid, who was Dave Lewis's right-hand man behind the Boston bench last season, has not found work for the upcoming season. Chiarelli has yet to assign him other duties within the organization . . . Chiarelli said he made a point of telling his charges that it was a long summer here in the Hub of Hockey, with few media outlets, especially on the national level, predicting good things for his team. "I am sick and tired of hearing it," he said he told his players. "We have faith in this group. We made some significant changes to the roster without changing it drastically." And it's time now, Chiarelli emphasized, to start producing.

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at

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