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Bruins’ right wing shuffle bittersweet for Milan Lucic

09.04.13 at 9:39 pm ET
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Milan Lucic was very careful to not knock Jarome Iginla‘s decision to choose the Penguins over the Bruins last season, and in doing so he prevented some potential awkwardness between linemates.

Lucic, one of the bigger NHL fans among NHL players, has long respected Iginla, and he has every reason to. As one of the premier power forwards in recent history with 530 NHL goals, Iginla is not only a logical linemate for Lucic, but the type of player a young star like Lucic can look up to.

That isn’t to say there wasn’t some surprise on Lucic’s end when he heard that the B’s had signed the 36-year-old.

“At first I kind of laughed,” Lucic said Wednesday. “It’s great. He’s a great player. He hasn’t scored 500 plus goals by accident, and I think a lot of people kind of doubted him and the way he played at the end of the year, but I think he’s a guy with a lot of pride and a guy that competes hard. ‘€¦ It seems like he’s real excited to be a part of the Boston Bruins, and that’s what you want to see from a future Hall of Famer.”

Of course, the only reason the Bruins got Iginla was to replace Lucic’s good friend in Nathan Horton, who decided after the season that he was not interested in returning to the Bruins. Horton took a seven-year deal in Columbus, leaving Lucic without his linemate of the last three seasons.

“It’s tough. For me personally, it’s more than just losing a teammate,” Lucic said of Horton departing. “It’s someone that you spent a lot of time with in his time here, but at the end of the day that’s where you’ve got to realize that it is a business. It’s unfortunate to see him go — he was a big part of our team the last three years — but you’ve got to move on, turn the page and wish him all the best.”

While Lucic wouldn’t definitely say whether he saw Horton’s decision coming, he defended the decision.

“I talked to him a little bit about it, and being a UFA he’s free to make the decision that he wants,” Lucic said. “He got a pretty good deal out of it, so there’s no grudges, there’s nothing like that.”

Lucic and Horton found success skating on a line with David Krejci that paired one of the league’s better playmakers and two-way forwards with a pair of power forwards. The line could score and wear teams down, all while being more responsible than your average top line.

With Horton gone, the B’s can go for the same dynamic by inserting Iginla into Horton’s old spot. If they do, Loui Eriksson can play the right wing on Patrice Bergeron’s line and give the B’s perhaps the best top-six they’ve had in years.

“Just looking at [it], Horty was a right-handed shot and so is Iggy,” he said. “If you were going to make a pretty good guess, you’d say he fit in pretty well with us. Horty was a great shooter, and [Iginla] is one of the best goal-scorers of the last 15 years. You hope that it fits and you hope the chemistry is there from day one. If he is with us, we’re going to have to work at it a little bit to make sure it’s where we want it to be.”

Read More: Jarome Iginla, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton,
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