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Milan Lucic’s handshake line incident as stunning as it is regrettable

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By Allan Muir

My youngest son popped his head into my office before he headed off to school this morning.

“Did you see what Milan Lucic did in the handshake line?” he asked.

“Sure did,” I said.

“Man, you’d kill me if I did that,” he said.

“Sure would,” I replied.

Respect and good sportsmanship are non-negotiable qualities when it comes to my kids.

But I’ll admit to a bit of moral flexibility when it comes to the pros.

In case you somehow missed the drama in the aftermath of Montreal’s 3-1 win over the Bruins in Wednesday night’s Game 7, it went down like this: Lucic, Boston’s fearsome power forward, proceeded perfunctorily down the handshake line until he got to the Canadiens’ Dale Weise. Lucic pulled back from the fourth liner, barked something more menacing than “good game, bud” and moved on. A few more players later down the line, he met up with Alexei Emelin, repeated his ill wishes, and finished his glum duty.

After the game, Weise shared what happened with reporters. “Even in the handshake they had a couple of guys — or, sorry, just one — that couldn’t put it behind them and be a good [loser]. Milan Lucic had a few things to say to a couple guys.

“You look at a guy like Shawn Thornton who has been around the league and he plays hard and he plays that role and he had good things to say to everybody,” Weise continued. “He won with class and Milan Lucic just couldn’t do that. Well, I won’t get into what he said, it’s just a poor way to lose.”

What Weise forgets is that there’s also a poor way to win.

Canadiens-Bruins Game 7 recap | Box score | Highlights | Takeaways

Not that he deserves a lot of scorn for tattling. This was only the second time that Weise has been on the winning side of the line since his junior days in Swift Current, so it’s all a little new to him.

But losing isn’t. And he should remember how that feels. We all should.

MUIR: Don Cherry says Lucic handshake incident much ado about nothing

We like to think that we’d acquit ourselves honorably in that situation. That we could put seven games worth of pain and animosity and crushing disappointment behind us in an instant, acknowledge our conquerors and retreat gracefully into summer.

But the heat of battle doesn’t drop to room temperature the moment the final horn sounds for everyone. And that’s why we shouldn’t take the handshake line for granted.

What’s stunning isn’t that this happened, but that it doesn’t happen more often. We talk about the level of sportsmanship displayed in one of hockey’s greatest traditions, but we don’t appreciate how much it takes for a fierce competitor to tamp down his emotions moments after watching his Stanley Cup dreams die. Feisty goalie Battlin’ Billy Smith of the dynastic Islanders famously refused to participate in the ritual at all, calling it hypocritical. In 2008, Martin Brodeur snubbed his chippy nemesis, Sean Avery, after being vanquished by the Rangers. Sidney Crosby took heat for being late to the line after the 2009 Cup final, and he was on the winning side.

Look, if a guy like Thornton could turn off his frustration immediately after being eliminated by his team’s most hated rival, good for him. It probably helped that he was planted on the bench for all but 3:28 of Game 7 and saw just two shifts after the first period. It’s easier to keep an even keel when you’re uninvolved in the fray.

Or maybe he’s just a better person.

But that doesn’t make Lucic a complete villain, even if he did threaten to “effing kill” Weise (for the record, a schoolyard-level threat that every player from pee wee on up has heard and far more than a few have uttered). But given the often brutal, bloody context of the Boston-Montreal rivalry, Lucic’s utterance foreshadows more ugliness the next time the two teams meet.

An unflattering display during an ideally civilized moment that is celebrated by the sport and its fans? Certainly. But Lucic wasn’t out there to make friends. He’s a heart-and-soul guy who plays to win. He’d battled ferociously with Weise and Emelin during the past two weeks and it wasn’t enough. He felt the weight of that lost opportunity and it got the better of him. Anguish and frustration still had him on edge 15 minutes after the game during a locker room media scrum in which he called Weise a baby (a public comment that is probably more regrettable than his on-ice trash talk) and struggled to explain where it all went wrong.

Given some time to reflect, Lucic may even regret what he said in both instances. If he does and decides to come clean about it, we all should accept his contrition and move on.

And if he doesn’t, his dad might have something to say about it.

UPDATE: Lucic not sorry about remarks

  • Published On May 15, 2014
  • 51 comments
    FreespiritMt
    FreespiritMt

    It's cowardly to shoot your mouth off after a loss in a frickin' handshake line and not deliver when it counts, on the ice. I get it, he's 25 years old and the Bruins lost a heartbreaker and that's hard. When it is hard is when you prove who and what you are. All the greats who have worn the Bruins uniform over the years, and there are dozens, deserve better. As a Bruins fan, I am sick of the topic being identified with a great, great team, and a great city.

    Suppersready99
    Suppersready99

    luccic has to remember he is a role model for many young boys, he should act accordingly. Prfessionals , above all, should show class.

    He seems to be living proof that too many blows to the head does have an effect on the intellect, just listen to his inability to put three words together to answer reporters.

    captainmike81
    captainmike81

    Some are poor losers all away round.......or unsportsman like conduct. Typical when you have no class to speak of. You lost Lucic now be a man about it. Montreal will win the Stanley this year so it's not all bad.

    Deepelemblues
    Deepelemblues

    oh, total BS on criticizing weise. lucic is a thug and he should be called out for making a juvenile threat during the post-series handshake. 

    gearchecker
    gearchecker

    Lucic should have been suspended for his cowardly, intent to injure spearing of a players groin. But the NHL is a bigger joke than even Lucic. I'd be embarrassed to have this lowlife on my team.

    swtferguson
    swtferguson

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. Listen to what Aaron Ward had to say about his former teammate:

    http://youtu.be/wXn2j9crVFM

    Ward, who played for Boston and has won 3 Stanley Cups, has more expertise in this manner than Don Cherry or any other commentator I've heard. You fight hard during the game, but at the end you line up and shake hands like a man. You don't have to congratulate the other team, you don't even have to look them in the eye, but you have to shake hands like a sportsman. Lucic is gutless in my opinion. Perhaps less threatening and chirping and more skating and scoring, and you'd be going on to the next round.

    gthibodeau84
    gthibodeau84

    Most of these comments are written by stupid people or people who don't know how to read. He's not making excuses for Lucic. He's just saying he understands how something like this can happen. All you people bad mouthing the writer apparently never played a sport you need to pour your heart and soul into. Either that or you got so used to being a loser youre ok with it now. People are different(duh!) and handle things differently, it doesn't make Lucic or the writer bad people, Lucic just hates losing especially when he looked like 1 of the 2 or 3 bruins that played like they actually wanted to win. I would be pissed too and to ask these guys to turn it off all of a sudden is ridiculous. Im with the Allan on this that im surprised it doesn't happen more often and it probably does but we don't hear about it. I'd put money on it if basketball did this handshake thing MJ  would have slapped Isaiah Thomas back in the day. And what do you think all the roided up football players would say to the guy poking him the eye or punching him in the groin during a scrum? What about a baseball series? baseball guys are so sensitive you get a 95 mph fastball to the back if you didn't run hard enough during a home run what would they say during the handshake to someone who beamed them or slid hard into 2nd? Vilify Lucic for acting differently(human) than you would or bad mouth the writer for him understanding the frustration the guy must have felt, but i wont. I'll never have an issue with someone who wants to win and isn't happy when it doesn't happen. Go back to losing, LOSERS!!!

    ruggedruger7
    ruggedruger7

    Everyone wants to write about Weise "tattling", and (like Cherry) give Lucic a break because he lost a Game 7.  Lucic isn't a new kid on the block, and should have been professional about it. He acted like a child, and even moreso in his post-game, locker-room interview.

    Kasper888
    Kasper888

    Die hard Habs fan here. I hate the "Bruins" ... but I love seeing these 2 teams going at it playoff time !!! It's always very intense, emotional and physical. This was an incredible series. So much intensity. I honestly don't think Lucic meant was he said during the lineup. His emotions got the better of him.It shows that he has put a lot of emotions in this series. I'm not saying that what he said during the lineup is excusable or okay. He should've just given the handshake and move on.I'm sure if he could take that back, he will. 


    Same thing when Lucic said about vancouver http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/bruins-lucic-rips-vancouver-after-bar-fight/ ... his emotions got the better of him, he later apologized for it. Not saying he's a saint ... but he's not a "thug" as most people perceive him to be. Go Habs ! Go ! 

    Steve259
    Steve259

    What a load of crap. He doesn't get a free pass because it was 15 minutes after a hard fought series. It was 15 minutes after a hard fought series for EVERY PLAYER, not just Lucic. You get to see the true character of a person when they lose. Anyone can be a gracious winner (and I'm not even sure he was that when Boston won). The guy's a thug and gets agitated when people give it back to him. Classless but not surprising.

    Vetus Kantautas
    Vetus Kantautas

    Lucic..is the Big BABY ''' He STUNK THE RINK OUT ALL SERIES ...GROW UP MILAN '''Time for You to Move On ...We The Bruin Fans ..Are tired of Non-Performance ,from well paid Players ...I hope the Upper managemant makes whole sale moves this off season ...

    MikeyDislikesIt
    MikeyDislikesIt

    I agree with most of this article except one thing: Lucic wrote a children's book about anti-bullying and then, instead of leading by example, he went out and led with hypocrisy. A bully who writes about anti-bullying and a sore loser, I am so very glad the NY Rangers will not have to deal with this next round :)

    WormsyAllen
    WormsyAllen

    I always thought lucic was a Neandethral..this proves it.

    Will Muny
    Will Muny

    Just another bitter SI Writer Burned by Montreal and feels the need to call out Weise for tattling. Wonder if he was defending Sterling for being Tattled on?!?!?!


    That much of a Boston Homer this guy IS!!!

    CalTony
    CalTony

    Montreal outplayed the Bruins when it counted the most. Chara was a detriment; he looked useless, the Canadiens skated circles around him. Marchand actually hurts the Bruins with his lack of discipline: and he looked scared of Subban, Funny how Lucic never gets mouthy with players his own size. This one hurt Boston. They will be thinking about this all summer. 

    JohnCampbell
    JohnCampbell

    allan, by defending the actions of lucic in this article, you have lost all credibility as a journalist.  you can now go join don cherry in the world of neanderthal thinking when it comes to class in this sport we love.  did you see any blues players react like this after their loss to chicago?  wild players?  your thoughts concerning the bruins should never be published by si again, as you can clearly not separate your job from your fandom.  just like cherry.

    TL1961
    TL1961

    So, the writer pretty much excuses Lucic, and mocks Weise? What a fool!


    You say it isn't easy to cool down in an instant, but hockey players do it all the time. Nobody says they're "cool", simply that they put aside their frustration long enough to congratulate their opponents. 


    The postgame handshake at series end is a great tradition, and one that sets hockey apart from the other sports. Yet this writer feels it is OK to be a punk, and not OK to be a "tattletale"?


    Boston's fans (not 100% of them, but not just one either) were classless and at least one of its players was as well. Stop excusing them.

    toddpurvis10
    toddpurvis10

    I'm sure the author got what he wanted, which was a reaction.  But to take the stance of defending Lucic's actions for the sake of "good press" - is it really worth it?

    ianlinross
    ianlinross

    Look up the word neanderthal in the dictionary and you'll see a picture of......

    Bruins hurt themselves with a lot of B.S. antics. If they had stuck to playing hockey they'd be prepping to play the Rangers.

    Debbie Mitton
    Debbie Mitton

    Allan, you are no better than Lucic, if you think this is ok. All because you lost a series, it happens all the time, just ask all the other teams that have lost so far, doesn't mean you turn into a punk bully and start acting like an idiot. There is no excuse for this behaviour and as a Pro all the more reason for him to set the example. And since you are a parent it starts there, you tell your child who watches and/or plays hockey that this type of behaviour is not ever acceptable, you lose with class and you win with class, and no where is there room for childish, immature, bullyish talk like this. Lucic is not a man of character...

    JASinILL2006
    JASinILL2006

    Pretty much every pro hockey player in every post-season series battles as hard or harder than Lucic. Why is it that they are able to put aside their competitiveness and disappointment and act like adults? More to the point, why is the author so willing to excuse this sort of brutish behavior? Using the author's example of his kids, what does it say that he is not willing to excuse this sort of behavior in kids, but a pro gets a pass? Pros/successful athletes get to do whatever they want? That's a pretty sad message to be sending one's kids. Gracious behavior in the face of defeat is admirable. Lucic's antics are an embarrassment.

    toddpurvis10
    toddpurvis10

    Allan - you leave it on the ice - when's it's over, it's over. Shake hands graciously - win or lose - and move on  Don't make excuses for Lucic - he needs to grow up.

    adfelly
    adfelly

    So, you don't agree with Lucic for what he said, but then you do some back-pedaling.  It was bad, but you are surprised it doesn't happen more.  If your son did it, you would be upset and you think maybe Lucic's parents might be upset too and maybe he will regret it too.  And part of the blame here actually falls to Weise for reporting the incident, answering questions about it because he hasn't learned how to win yet.  


    I am sorry, but this is an article written by a fan, not a journalist.  Is it tough to lose and see your dreams of another Stanely Cup quashed?  Yes.  Too bad, suck it up, you are a professional hockey player, with cameras and microphones everywhere.  This is the age of instant news, get used to it.  Lucic is a representative of Boston, the Bruins and the NHL, conduct yourself accordingly.  If you don't want to shake someone's hand, don't shake their hand.  But issuing threats is way, way, way over the line.  You know going into every single playoff series that someone is going to win and someone is going to lose and you have to shake hands no matter which side you are on.  You are an extremely well-paid professional athlete and role model, act like it you big baby.

    cptmarvel
    cptmarvel

    Lucic is a classless punk.  If he isn't skating up behind opponents and spearing them in the crotch with his stick he's acting like a childish loser in the handshake line.  I live in Boston and don't like the Canadiens at all, but I was rooting for them to beat the Bruins because Lucic is such a punk.  In fact, he's the captain of the All-Punk team.

    BobEvans
    BobEvans

    What Lucic did is inexcusable.  If you cannot conduct yourself in a civil and respectful manner following the conclusion of a heated series then do not participate in the handshake.  Otherwise, as Lucic did during the exchange, you send a message to the young and impressionable fans that respect these athletes that poor sportsmanship and thuggery are acceptable.  The author of this article, Mr. Muir, apparently fails to grasp the potential repercussions of a sore loser’s inability to control himself, but at least his son understands.

    FifthInTheOrder
    FifthInTheOrder

    Yes, I "somehow missed the drama in the aftermath of Montreal’s 3-1 win over the Bruins in Wednesday night’s Game 7," but after reading your piece, it makes me glad I'm not biased towards the Bruins, even if I was I would be asking what's the big deal there for someone to write something this poor.

    Maybe in your opinion the player who "forgets is that there’s also a poor way to win" and only twice "has been on the winning side of the line since his junior days" is not entitled to express his views to the press.  Is he, Mr Muir?

    Andrew Gartshore
    Andrew Gartshore

    Wow after the introduction you lost all respect for this article. Commit your name to memory and skip your next!


    JacobJones
    JacobJones

    What a terrible article.. Don't preface everything by trying to act like a moral God, then make excuses for this guy's childish behavior.. I can understand the sentiment, after 7 grueling games in a violent sport, but if you cannot lose like a man, then you're nothing.. Losing is a cornerstone of sports..


    And to the author, with his cheapshots against someone who only one 2 playoff series since Jr hockey, among other cheapshots, grow up, for goodness sakes.. It's amazing how universally immature former hockey players are, geez..

    Paulo
    Paulo

    So, you think it's correct to raise your son to be a good sport and show respect for his opponents.  But when a grown man chooses not to behave that way you defend him.  The whole idea of sports is to see your opponents as, well, opponents.   Not as enemies.  Not as evil nemeses.  Lucic needs to grow up and act like a man.  Take on the responsibility of being a sportsman.  Not crying and pouting like a child.


    Your defense of him is shallow.  Your character is called into question.


    Are you going to show these comments to your son?  Likely not.

    sean m
    sean m

    Yea, something coming from the guy who ran Ryan Miller, who speared I-can't-remember-who in the groin, who quite often goes high with his arms on otherwise clean checks… I am SHOCKED that he would be less than sportsmanlike. It's as shocking as if you'd tell me that Marchand did something cheap or after the whistle. Shocking, I tell you!


    But what do you expect from one of the two dirtiest organizations in the league? (Unsure if Pittsburgh is worse or not…)

    Suppersready99
    Suppersready99

    totally, too many hits to the head, intellect of an apple

    mkmck69
    mkmck69

    @gearchecker  But I guess it was OK for Markov to do the same thing to Chara, right? What a hypocrite.

    bru4494
    bru4494

    @gearchecker  you cant injure a player by spearing him in the groin. It was a lame, cheap play for sure, but Dekayser never missed a game and Emelin recieved a little love tap. No intent to injure there, just picking a fight that neither player accepted.


    TaylorEvans
    TaylorEvans

    @swtferguson  How many Cups did Brodeur win? Yet he didn't shake Avery's hand. What's worse? Refusing to shake someone's hand, or doing it and then telling that person you're gonna f them up next time you play? Your post makes absolutely no sense at all. Cherry and Lucic played the physical role. Aaron Ward was a 5th or 6th defenseman, who did not get involved in the hitting and fighting. You have clearly NEVER played the sport at any level beyond pee wee.

    I also fail to see the correlation between looking someone in the eye and telling them that you're going to kill them, and being gutless. Gutless is when someone calls someone a name, hiding behind the safety of his computer screen from thousands of miles away. Got that, you gutless punk? LMAO

    Hockeyfan21
    Hockeyfan21

    You're the one that has missed the point here, the handshake line is about showing class and putting that behind you, two things Lucic is incapable of doing. He was mocked, boo hoo there have been a lot worse things done and said than that and guys put it behind them. Lucic just has anger issues. But carry on missing the point and calling everyone who gets it a loser. By the way I've played hockey my entire life and been through many handshake lines, so your idea that anyone who disagrees with what he did doesn't play sports is bs.

    bru4494
    bru4494

    @Kasper888  I have never heard a habs fan like you before in my life, well done sir.

    ianlinross
    ianlinross

    @Debbie Mitton  Al's a big Bruins fan. A HUGE bruins fan. 

    But don't hold it against him, he's a cool guy and good dude from Windsor, Ont.

    nygiants56
    nygiants56

    @Debbie Mitton   Love this.  You and others have zero idea - me included - what has been said on these lines over the past years.  Only difference here is that Weis ran to the media to "tell" on Lucic.  Hey, the guy was wrong for what he did with Weis and Emelin.  He said something unsportsmanlike and, yes, threatened the guy to beat the heck out of him next year. Big deal.  He was ticked off and handled it the wrong way.  Now he's not a man of "character?"  Really?  And just how much time have you spent with Lucic. 

    nygiants56
    nygiants56

    @cptmarvelYou're either a fraud in writing that you live in Boston or a Canadiens fan. Which one?

    nygiants56
    nygiants56

    @Paulo The authors "character is called into question?"  For what, disagreeing with you?  Jesus, lighten up.  Yeah, Lucic was stupid for what he did, but you have zero idea what Weis or Emelin did throughout the games to piss Lucic off.  I'm sure there have been other players that said stupid things on line before - difference is other players didn't run to the media to tell them the story.  But you're perfect and would never do something stupid.


    Wonderful how you and most others here project their supposed morals on others.

    SenorPlaid
    SenorPlaid

    @Paulo +1. Is Allan a Bruins' fan? Then his two-facedness is understandable although still deplorable.

    nygiants56
    nygiants56

    @Hockeyfan21Wow - you've played hockey your entire life?  THAT makes you qualified to judge others.  He has "anger" issues?  Seriously?  Unsportsmanlike after the game?  Sure.  Other than that, get over it.    

    JohnCampbell
    JohnCampbell

    @nygiants56 @Debbie Mitton  exactly debbie NOT a man of character.  every other player this season, as well as past seasons, do not act like this, whether after a game 4 loss or game 7.  you win with class, you loose with class.  lucic showed what kind of man he is.  classless. 

    matthew paap
    matthew paap

    @nygiants56 @Debbie MittonNy, it doesn't matter what's been said.  The handshake lineup was done to shown class and let by gones be by gones.  It's a show of class and respect to each other.  To spit on that shows a low class human being.  If you are too angry to do it, then don't shake hands.  To try and justify it in any way, shows you have no idea what hockey and class is. You're not a Giants fan, you're a Jets fan. How dare you call yourself one. Because the Giants have been owned by the classiest family \ in sports, the Mora's, who know what good sportsmanship is. You're a disgrace to everyone who loves the Giants.  Change your name, Jets fan.

    bru4494
    bru4494

    @darrrellpolk @nygiants56 @Hockeyfan21  Stop talking about the Emelin spear in game 2 - you sound rediculous, that stuff happens in every game on every shift. Chara got slashed in the hand in the same game and missed a couple of shifts because of it, yet, you didnt see that one in the headlines did you? NO penatly on the play either

    darrrellpolk
    darrrellpolk

    @nygiants56 @Hockeyfan21  

    He may well have issues , lets look at his track record , after he used his stick on the Detroit player's groin in round 1 , Lucy-ic said that's the 3rd time I've done that (there could be more) he admitted to three .

    Then he speared Emelin in the groin in game 2 , roid rage or envy .

    He broke "the code" steamrolled a goalie (Ryan Miller) then challenged the Buffalo bench .

    The coup de gras threatening two players in the handshake .

    If Lucy-ic  "loses it" against either Weise or Emelin , those words will haunt him in a lawsuit , he promised revenge .

    He is almost 26 and weighs almost 240 . He has to know better .

    His fights are against guys much smaller , he wouldn't fight Georges Laroque and hid behind a linesman when fighting with Colton Orr.

    In the biggest game of the season Lucy-ic never had a shot on goal , but he did threaten TWO guys .

    He got ONE , I repeat ONE goal in 7 games against Montreal , despite being on the top line , got first line power play time . The ONE goal he did get was a beauty in an empty net , then he does his Tarzan chest thumping imitation .

    I'm sure Bobby Orr was really impressed at that .

    Weise a 4th liner with 1/2 the ice time of Lucy-ic , managed to put THREE pucks behind the Boston goalie .

    Does he have "anger issues" , none of us really know , but his track record certainly leans that way .

    How many times do you use your stick on a man's groin before it is an issue ?


    gthibodeau84
    gthibodeau84

    @Vetus Kantautas stop calling yourself a bruins fan if you want wholesale changes. They won the presidents cup for crying out loud just got outplayed in 4 games out of 7 and actually if it wasn't for 13 pucks hitting the post who knows how different the series would have been