|Former Bruins enforcer Chris Nilan on D&C explains friendship with Whitey Bulger: ‘I’m a loyal person. He was a friend of mine’||12.19.13 at 10:49 am ET|
Former NHL enforcer Chris Nilan joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to talk about his hockey career, his post-NHL addiction issues and his friendship with Whitey Bulger that continues to this day.
Nilan, a product of West Roxbury and Northeastern University, was selected 231st (of 234 players) in the 1978 NHL draft but managed to have a long career with the Canadiens, Rangers and Bruins. He still holds the Canadiens franchise record for penalty minutes in a career (2,248) and season (358). He had 222 fights in his 13 NHL seasons, including 43 in 1985-86 during the Canadiens’ Stanley Cup-winning season.
Following his retirement after the 1991-92 season, Nilan had issues with alcohol and drugs, he was arrested for shoplifting and his 25-year marriage dissolved. Nilan says he has been clean and sober for three years, living with his girlfriend on the West Island of Montreal. He recently wrote a book: “Fighting Back: The Chris Nilan story.”
Nilan, now 55, grew up in Boston in the 1970s and fell in love with hockey while watching the Big, Bad Bruins. He made the NHL as a tough guy but worked to develop his game and ended up averaging 20 goals over two seasons in the mid-1980s. He said the drive he used to get him to the NHL came in handy when he hit rock bottom after his career.
“I had a dream of playing in the NHL one day,” he said. “I think the story somewhat reverts back to the things that — I had my transgressions and my drugs after hockey. Through alcoholism and drug addiction, I kind of reached back and used some of those things that drove me and got me to the National Hockey League to get me sober.”
Nilan said his turning point in his fight against addiction came after he started shooting heroin, something he promised himself he would never do.
“I was wrapped up in that for about eight months,” Nilan said. “And that night, sitting on the toilet, I basically overdosed. I woke up probably three hours later. I stood up and I fell forward and hit my head on the wall and knocked myself out again. And when I woke up from that I had I guess what you’d call the gift of desperation. I knew I needed to get help. I was in such a bad place. I was so beaten down; I beat myself down. I made a phone call and asked for help. It was the best move I ever made. … Clean since. And sober.”
|Milan Lucic ‘disgusted’ with Vancouver, pursuing legal action after ‘unprovoked attack’||12.16.13 at 12:26 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins forward Milan Lucic said Monday that he is pursuing legal action after being punched twice in the face in downtown Vancouver Saturday night after the Bruins’ loss to the Canucks. (For video of the aftermath of the altercation, click here.)
“I was part of an unprovoked attack on Saturday night where I was punched in the face on two separate occasions, like I said, unprovoked,” Lucic said. “From this point forward, I’m just exploring to pursue this in a legal manner. That’s probably as much as I can say right now. Like I said, I was the victim of the attack. As you can see in the video, I showed restraint by not retaliating in a physical manner. That’s basically it.”
Lucic, who hails from Vancouver, said he was trying to “blow off some steam” and have some fun after the Bruins concluded their four-game road trip, but was punched once inside a nightclub and once outside. Both punches came from the same person, whom Lucic does not know.
The Bruins forward has had a frustrating run with his hometown, as Canucks fans threw popcorn at his grandparents during the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. In 2012, his Serbian Orthodox church was vandalized with such things as “[Expletive] Lucic” and “Go Canucks Go” spray-painted on the church. Lucic said he is “disgusted” with Vancouver.
“That’s one of the worst parts. It’s in my home town,” Lucic said. “Going back to the spray painting of the church and my grandparents and parents and family getting harassed during the Final against the Canucks in 2011. Now it’s escalated to a point where I get attacked for just minding my own business.
“I have no reason left to defend my city and the people in my city. I’m kind of just disgusted and outraged that it had to come to something like that. As far as that goes, other than being in Rogers Arena, nobody will ever see me in downtown Vancouver ever again.”
For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Video: Milan Lucic in altercation outside Vancouver bar||at 11:09 am ET|
A video is making its way around the Internet, and it does not show the best side of Bruins forward Milan Lucic. Said to be taken outside a Vancouver bar at 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning — after the Bruins played the Canucks on Saturday night — the video shows Lucic, a Vancouver native, arguing with another man and spewing expletives.
Lucic says, “Do you know who you’re [expletive] with? I’ll [expletive] kill you.” He also tells police that the individual punched him in the face two times, later saying three times.
A police spokesman told Global News that he is not aware of the incident.
Here’s the video (warning: contains swears).
|Milan Lucic: Canadiens are Bruins’ biggest test||12.05.13 at 1:45 pm ET|
MONTREAL — It’s a bit odd that the Bruins and Canadiens have yet to meet roughly a third of the way into the regular season, but when they finally do Thursday night, it will mean a lot more than it would have had they met in one of the first two months of the season.
First place in the Atlantic Division is on the line — and crazily, as NHL.com’s Arpon Basu notes, it’s the fifth straight meeting between the teams in which the top spot in a division was up for grabs. The Canadiens, who have played 29 games to the Bruins’ 27, sit one point behind the B’s in the standings with 37.
Some quick background on the Canadiens: They’ve been really good of late — 7-0-1 over their last eight games, as Bruins team statistician/left winger Milan Lucic noted Thursday morning.
“I think it’s probably our biggest test of the year, coming into a real tough building against a real good team who’s playing its best hockey so far this year,” Lucic said. “It’s going to be a good test for us.”
The Habs, who have much of the same roster from last season but added a top-six winger in Daniel Briere and toughened up a bit with George Parros, have been led by the usual strong play from the likes of Carey Price and P.K. Subban. Price has a 2.00 goals-against average and .937 save percentage in 22 games this season and likely will be in net Thursday after Peter Budaj played Wednesday against the Devils.
Subban, fresh off of winning the Norris Trophy as a 23-year-old, leads the Habs with 24 points (four goals, 20 assists). Claude Julien said after the morning skate that Subban is being considered for Team Canada and that after years of adjusting to being a young star player, he’s got everyone on the same page about what he brings to the table.
“I think P.K. is a player that is electrifying,” Julien said. “He makes a lot of things happen offensively. When he carries that puck, he’s hard to stop. Throughout the years, a player is allowed to mature just like any other player. We’ve got some in our lineup that go through that same thing. Expectations sometimes are extremely high, and sometimes they’re not realistic and you don’t allow a player to develop the way you should without criticism, which you should.”
The Bruins haven’t played since Saturday, while the Canadiens are playing the second game of a back-to-back. The Habs blew a third-period lead against the Devils on Wednesday but came back to force overtime and eventually win a shootout.
That brings them to Thursday, when they will at long last face the Bruins. It’s been a good start for both teams, but the season doesn’t really start until the Bruins-Canadiens rivalry gets kicked off.
“It does feel different [having not played them], no doubt,” Julien said. “It’s probably a game that everybody’s been waiting for, fans and players alike. This is a great rivalry. We enjoy this kind of rivalry, and those are easy games to get up for for both sides and they end up being pretty entertaining games as well. ‘¦ These are the kinds of games that I think fans want to watch.”
|Milan Lucic scores twice as Bruins beat Blue Jackets||11.30.13 at 9:35 pm ET|
Picking up the win for the Bruins was Chad Johnson, who faced only 14 shots and improved to 4-1-0 on the season.
Patrice Bergeron scored the Bruins’ first goal, firing a puck past a screening Loui Eriksson and Columbus netminder Curtis McElhinney for Bergeron’s second goal in as many games. After Carl Soderberg got hooked by Ryan Johansen, Lucic tipped a Torey Krug shot in front for a power-play goal to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead in the first period.
Lucic added his second of the game and 11th of the season with a shot that beat McElhinney high in the third period, and though the Blue Jackets got one back on a power-play goal from Johansen, the B’s were able to limit their chances throughout the night and prevent them getting back into a game in which the B’s probably could have led bigger.
The Bruins will have four days off before they play next, as their schedule will resume Thursday in Montreal for their first meeting of the season against the Canadiens.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Chad Johnson could have stayed on the bench and the teams would have been tied in the first period, as Columbus put only two shots on goal in the first 20 minutes. That followed a showing for the Bruins Friday in which they surrendered just 11 shots over the final two periods to the Rangers, so the B’s went three periods while only allowing 13 shots on goal with no goals against.
– Speaking of shots on goal, this weekend the Bruins allowed less than 20 shots on gaol in back-to-back games for the first time since April of 2002.
– Eriksson continues to reward the Bruins with his play in front. A day after his work in front led to a rebound going off Dan Girardi and in, Eriksson screened McElhinney on Bergeron’s first-period goal.
Eriksson had the pass to Dougie Hamilton before Hamilton fed it to Bergeron, so he picked up the secondary helper and now has two goals and an assist for three points against the Blue Jackets in three meetings this season.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Lucic fought Dalton Prout in the second period, and though it was a good fight between a couple of big kids, it was questionable timing on Lucic’s part. The Bruins had the puck in the offensive zone when he got tangled up with Prout in front, and though the B’s lost possession and the puck was coming out of the zone by the time the two were well into the fight, they were going at it for a few seconds beforehand.
– Jarome Iginla can’t seem to buy a goal, as he was stopped on a bid off a McElhinney rebound in the second period and, after appearing in real-time to tip Lucic’s second goal in, saw credit rightfully given to his linemate. Iginla still has just five goals through 26 games this season, but he’s turned in strong play despite not being able to find the back of the net often.
– Brad Marchand could have had his second goal in as many games were it not for a hit post in the third period. Things continue to look up for Marchand, however, and it was pretty comical seeing him take two laps around the offensive zone with the puck on a third period shift.
Scott McLaughlin contributed to this report.
|Milan Lucic continues strong season with first career overtime goal||11.14.13 at 11:22 pm ET|
Milan Lucic is something of a walking encyclopedia when it comes to hockey. He can tell you on the spot what the Bruins’ history is against a certain team or player, and he can always recall the last time he accomplished a certain feat. And yet on Thursday night when he said that his overtime winner was the first time he had ever scored an overtime goal, it seemed like he had to have been mistaken.
But sure enough, Lucic was spot on. Of his 126 NHL goals (including playoffs), none of them had come in overtime. The 60 he scored in juniors? Nope. None of those were in an extra session either.
Ironically, Lucic said just the other day that he’d like to see overtime changed in order to increase scoring chances and cut down on the number of games that are decided in a shootout. Then on Thursday, he took matters into his own hands with the clock winding down.
Lucic stepped into the shooting lane in his own end and took a Nikita Nikitin slapper right off his shin pads. The puck caromed all the way to the Columbus zone, where Lucic tracked it down, walked in alone on Sergei Bobrovsky and snapped a quick shot through the five-hole.
“A great job of blocking the shot, and he got on his horse and took off,” Claude Julien said. “Again, he can shoot the puck. He got him in the five-hole and it was a great decision on his part.”
For Lucic, it was his team-leading seventh goal of the season, and his second on a five-game homestand in which the Bruins went 4-0-1. On a night when the B’s didn’t play their best, his great individual effort allowed them to head out on the road feeling much better than if they had let a game against an inferior opponent slip away.
“I think when you look at the record it’s what you wanted, to have a good homestand, and we did,” Julien said. “Nine out of 10 points is something certainly to be happy with. And now we have to bring our game on the road, and we have three tough road games coming up.”
Lucic is on pace for a career-high 34 goals, and while he could be due for a bit of a regression in terms of goal-scoring (his 21.9 percent shooting rate is well above his career average of 15.1), there’s no reason to think the B’s top line won’t continue to produce the way it has so far this season.
David Krejci and Jarome Iginla are both below their career shooting percentages — Iginla by a full five points — so the law of averages would dictate that any regression from Lucic will be canceled out as the percentages start to come up for Krejci and Iginla.
But whatever happens going forward, Lucic certainly will remember Thursday night’s game. He probably would’ve even without the overtime winner.
Lucic picked up his eight goal of the season with 48.6 seconds left in overtime, beating Sergei Bobrovsky five-hole on a breakaway.
The Blue Jackets got on the board first, when Blake Comeau took a feed from Mark Letestu and fired a shot past Johnson, but the B’s were able to tie it when a Zdeno Chara wrist shot from the point went off Loui Eriksson and past reigning Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky.
The Bruins took the lead in the second period when a Shawn Thornton shot from the top of the circle went off Jack Johnson’s stick and over Bobrovsky’s glove, though a bad rebound from Chad Johnson allowed Nick Foligno to tie it.
The Blue Jackets dominated play in the third period thanks in part to a pair of penalties from the Bruins and shoddy defensive play from the B’s, but the B’s were ale to make it to overtime despite their slow finish.
The Bruins will hit the road to face the Senators Friday in Ottawa.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins dodged a major bullet on the injury front, as David Krejci lost an edge going into the corner in the first period and lost his helmet as Brandon Dubinsky hit him into the boards. There was no wrongdoing on Dubinsky’s part (he couldn’t have anticipated Krejci going into the boards the way he did as they got there), but Krejci remained down on the ice for a minute and was tended to by trainer Don DelNegro.
Krejci seemed OK as he skated off the ice, but he went down the tunnel and did not play there rest of the period. He returned for the second period, however, and showed no ill effects in staying in the game the rest of the way.
– Though Johnson at points looked like someone who was shaking off rust, he came up with a pair of big saves in the opening minutes of the third period on Ryan Johansen and Cam Atikinson and later with a stop on Derek MacKenzie in front.
He came up big again in overtime, when a Torey turnover led to a scoring chance on which he stopped Foligno.
– In holding the Blue Jackets 0-for-4 on the power play on the night, the Bruins have now killed off 6 consecutive penalties. The last power-play goal they allowed was Chris Kunitz’ second-period tally on Oct. 30 in Pittsburgh.
– With the secondary assist on Thornton’s goal, Torey Krug now has a five-game point streak. Krug has two goals and three assists over Boston’s last five contests.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins kind of put all their eggs in one basket chasing a puck behind the net and it burned them on Comeau’s goal. Both Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton went behind the net for a puck with Mark Letestu, and when Letestu beat them both to it he was able to throw it in front to a wide-open Comeau, who beat Johnson to open the game’s scoring.
That wasn’t the extent of the Bruins’ breakdowns defensively, as they played a cleaner game in front of Johnson than they did in his last start against the Islanders, but they were so sloppy in the third period that Johnson had to be on his toes to keep the game tied.
– You cut Johnson some slack because he was playing in just his third game of the season, but he gave up a pretty bad rebound to give the Blue Jackets their second goal of the night. Johnson made a kick save on a Nikita Nikitin shot but kicked it right back in front, where Nick Foligno buried it to tie the game.
– This could be seen as a good thing or a bad thing, but the Bruins’ third line created a lot of scoring chances but couldn’t finish, as nice offensive plays by Carl Soderberg, Reilly Smith and Chris Kelly were all wasted. Nine minutes into the game, Soderberg blew past a Columbus defender at the blue line to create a 2-on-1 for the B’s, but Kelly couldn’t handle his pass.
Later in the period, Smith made a nice move down low and fired a shot that went through Bobrovsky and was headed into the corner of the net, but Ryan Murray was able to knock the puck away before it could go in or be tapped in by Soderberg.
In the second period, Kelly tipped a puck in the neutral zone around a defender to Soderberg to give him a breakaway, but Soderberg was denied on his backhand bid.