Milan Lucic works on state of mind as he and Oilers prepare to bounce back from difficult year
Reporters at the first day of the Edmonton Oilers’ training camp on Thursday were greeted by a smiling and relaxed Milan Lucic when it was his turn to answer questions from the media.
“We made a joke this morning,” the gritty forward said of how he and his teammates reacted to a rare summer snowfall in Alberta’s capital. “‘It’s like Christmas morning.’ [A] new season’s starting up again and everyone’s excited at coming to the rink formally… and with snow on the ground I think it adds to it.”
Lucic’s smile is a good start to the Oilers’ trying to wipe the slate clean after missing the playoffs in a year that many had pegged the team for major success. And perhaps no other player drew more criticism from fans than the man known as “Looch” by fans in the stands. Despite suiting up for all 82 games, Lucic found the back of the net just 10 times, and only one of those goals came in his last 46 games.
“I feel a lot better mentally, just leaving the past in the past and looking forward to what the new season presents,” he said. “[I’m] just trying to get happy again.
“I think I definitely learned a hard lesson with that last year, but … I’m not thinking about last year at all, I’m just thinking about this year and playing my game and being myself and being the best player I can be for this team.”
Watch below: After a disappointing season that saw the team miss the NHL playoffs, the Edmonton Oilers’ fresh start got underway with the first day of training camp ahead of the 2018-19 season. Kevin Karius has more.
Lucic is one of the league’s most respected power forwards, and he said he has taken steps to find a way to power through the extended rough patch he had last season. He told reporters he worked with sports psychologists in the offseason to help him bounce back stronger than ever.
“[They helped me on] how to get in the zone,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s just taking a step back and remembering why you play and remembering the kid inside you and why you play the game.”
Lucic said he also took inspiration this summer from teams that had success in the playoffs while the Oilers missed the post-season, in particular Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals who won their first-ever Stanley Cup.
Watch below: Some videos about Edmonton Oilers forward Milan Lucic.
While Lucic won a Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins in 2011, he said he feels like “there’s still a lot to prove in my career.”
“I mean, I turned 30 in June and… I remember my first three or four years in the league, you think of someone who turns 30, you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s old,'” he said. “But now that you’re here you don’t feel old… There’s definitely motivation from a personal level but I think more so from a team level.
“I’ve always found, in my 11 years, when the team has success, individuals have success so I think this team needs to buy into what the coach is selling,” he added. “[Management] didn’t make big drastic changes which shows that there’s still belief in this group.
“We’ve got to believe in ourselves and in each other to get back to what we were in 2016-17.”
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