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Lucic got caught with his professional pants down, and that speaks poorly of him, and us

I don't mean to spear this to death, but I'm gonna give it a try:

My final take on the handshake line shenanigans is this: Milan Lucic is paid $6 million dollars a season to be a bully. He very, very evidently doesn't respect his opponents, and based upon the league's ridiculous, "Past precedent = you CAN spear that" logic, it's clear that the NHL tolerates his behavior.

Lucic will also receive over ten thousand dollars in playoff bonus money, and for all his efforts to bully, instigate, intimidate and cause bodily harm, he was given ONE task: to preserve the artiface of sportsmanship, by acting like an adult for all of 90 seconds.

To all of his many defenders and excuse-makers, I would simply suggest that a man paid the kind of money Lucic is paid to inflict pain and suffering upping his foes, during games and afterward, should be expected to successfully pretend to be something other than an overgrown infant for a minute and a half.

Chris Chelios did a significant number of controversial things while playing for the Detroit Red Wings, and none was worse in my mind than skipping the handshake line against Anaheim in 2007--but Chelios was at least contrite about having not met the bare standards of conduct of an adult professional athlete after he did it, and that at least spoke to the character of someone who was a mean, vicious on-ice villain from the moment he laced up his skates.

I'd suggest that those of you who suggest that this handshake line is some sort of abomination--or that it's Dale Weise who "broke the 'code'" by sharing the sweet nothings that were whispered in his ear (hint: there is no code, friends)--spent thursday swinging at the same kind of low-hanging fruit that Lucic and Shawn Thornton spent the past four months aiming for and then blaming on "the heat of the moment" when they got caught acting like children.

Then again, given the Bruins' explanations for their "hard but clean" hockey, perhaps that was the heart of the nut. It's one thing to be a loser; it's another to be a childish loser who can't stand getting callled out for acting like a childish loser. And no, the fact that Lucic sponsors an anti-bullying charity does not make his actions on the ice after Game 7 any less childish or professionally unacceptable. There is no redemptive value here, just immaturity, ego and arrogance.

Hell of a series. Great Game 7. Poor sports among both fans, media and Bruins.

Quick update: one of the reasons I'm so pissed off is due to what was said in the locker room. Lucic had a hissy fit about getting caught, and this is...Really sad. And dumb.

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perfection's avatar

I can’t stand Lucic, the Bruins, or their playing style.

With that said, I am in the camp that the handshake line is DUMB. I know it’s a tradition. I get the point, but to lose a game 7 the way they did, OF COURSE there’s going to be extreme emotions still running high 20 seconds after the game ends. Some people can control those emotions better than others, but I don’t fault Cheli one bit for skipping that line. I’d even say it shows more sportsmanship to simply leave rather than go through the motions and talk trash or whatever Lucic did. you know- if you can’t say something nice, better to say nothing.

I fault Lucic for every spear and every goon piece of crap run he takes all playoffs and while you may find it to be an “excuse”, I actually don’t fault him all that much for being worked up still that soon after the buzzer. I mean, this isn’t one game like football. This also isn’t a non-contact sport like basketball. This is a long, drawn out, extremely violent war (which the Bruins I’m sure expected to prevail in ALL year) and to ask these guys to simply forget the moment after losing game 7 is kind of absurd.

I mean, real sportsmanship happens during the game - and Lucic shows none of that. Please, lambaste him all day for that. The handshake line isn’t actually part of the sport itself (any more than the team picture) so it doesn’t exactly require “sportsmanship”. It’s a pageant the league makes the players go through to show “look, it’s only PRETEND violence!”.

Whatever. Agree to disagree I guess. Or you can go ahead and lump me in with the excuse making fans who don’t understand the concept of sportsmanship as well as you do.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 05/16/14 at 01:30 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I completely understand where you’re coming from.

As far as I’m concerned, whether the handshake line is “part of the game” or not, I believe that Lucic has a responsibility to conduct himself like a professional athlete and respect the game’s rules and norms.

In my opinion, he didn’t perform to the standards which the vast majority of his peers are expected to uphold, and in that sense, I’d argue that what he did was pathetic regardless of whether you believe that the handshake line is a sacred trust or superfluous stupidity.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/16/14 at 01:35 AM ET

perfection's avatar

“pathetic” is quite strong… kind of petty and completely predictable seems more apt to me. your right, most players can compartmentalize those emotions and just numbly go through the motions of the line. I sure wouldn’t say they are all that often sincere in their congratulations, at least at that moment. Obviously, some guys can’t handle it. And lets be real here, do you not think at least one or two guys talks shit in EVERY handshake line after a war like that? especially between teams with genuine bad blood? I think what makes this extraordinary is we’ve actually heard all about it (hence all the “code” talk about tattling), but I’d say this behavior is likely far from unusual.

It’s funny, because it actually makes me feel better in a weird sort of way that he genuinely genuinely hates those guys. If he acted the way he did on the ice and then suddenly turned it off and congratulated them with a smile it would make him a total sociopath. At least this proves he’s human

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 05/16/14 at 01:53 AM ET


Well said, George. I’m glad the Bruins have finally been widely called on their douche-baggery, and that karma/the hockey gods have seen fit to give them a long, rancid summer. I just wish I could write with the Chief’s brilliant invective; i think only he could truly express how utterly satisfying and right it is to see it all. taken. away. from. them.

Posted by Moose Moss on 05/16/14 at 02:19 AM ET

blammo's avatar

As a non-Red Wings fan I’m a huge fan of Chelios and totally respect his skipping the hand-shake. If that’s what it takes, so be it. If you think you might embarrass yourself, your team, your sport? Bow out.

Whatever. Lucic is a knucklehead. That much is patently obvious. But I am a big fan of the hand shake, because it reveals character. I don’t cheer for guys that are meatheads, no matter what team they’re on.

Iginla, who followed dumbass in the line-up, surely wanted this more than Looch did, and he was the consummate gentleman. That is class. And Iginla is the first guy to put up his dukes if he feels his team needs a spark. And I love him for it. But he also knows when he has been beaten. He knows hockey is just a sport. Those are the guys the league and its fans need to support.

Posted by blammo from Vancouver, BC on 05/16/14 at 02:47 AM ET


As big of a douche as I think lucic is, I agree with him.  When I see an article about lucic threatening Weise and everyone claiming victimhood I believe everyone should hand in their man card.  Sack up. Tell Lucic he has a tee time at 830 and think about the next series.

Posted by SlimChance on 05/16/14 at 08:01 AM ET

Figaro's avatar

When Lucic is on his game, he’s an absolute horse.  The vast majority of the time, however, he’s just one particular part of a horse.

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 05/16/14 at 09:10 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

...Lucic sponsors an anti-bullying charity…

Wow. I can’t wait until his next anti-bullying charity fund raiser when some goon of a kid comes up to him and says, “Hey, Looch, can you help me? At the end-of-school picnic this year I told some kid that was smaller than me that I was gonna fuching kill him next year and that little baby went and told the principal. So, could you go tell the principal that it’s okay to say that stuff if you really, really don’t like someone?”

Lucic showed his true character with his comments in the handshake line – just as he did when he speared Smith in the nuts from behind. He’s a pathetic role model for young players, and especially for the kids he’s supposedly trying to reach with his anti-bullying charity.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 05/16/14 at 11:37 AM ET


I realize this is a post about a player but I’d like to chime in on the handshake line.

In Pro sports I see the point of it not being necessary. These are adults. They work in a profession that is emotional and barbaric when compared to what the rest of us do for a living. We don’t have a handshake line when another company recieves a contract we were going for. There’s no hi-five line at the end of the swing shift from the morning shift coming in. Sportsmanship of this kind exists nowhere else. Why should athletes be held to any kind of ridiculous standard that the rest of font have to live up to.

With that said, what is important about the handshake line is in youth sports. Yes, winning is important but most kids are playing for fun and exercise. Sharing a thanks at the end of a game is a reminder of our mortality and that we have jointly taken part in an activity with friends not foes. Forgoing the handshake line only reinforces the brutal nature of sports. Leaving it out on any level negates the basic nature of sports: competition. Competition is not inherently intertwined with violence and anger. These are things that should not be promoted in youth sports. Professional athletes may not be considered role models but they are representative of their profession. If they can not behave professionally then maybe they shouldn’t be in their industry.

Most of us would be fired from our jobs for not acting responsible and not understanding the why of what we do. Lucic is privileged to do his type of work and his behavior expresses the negative outcome of feeling privileged.  If all Pro hockey players acted like him not one of us would be interested in this sport. The handshake line should be a reminder to athletes that what they get to to do at an amazing level is something thy want others to aspire to. Skipping or acting badly at this part of a game is a sign of disrespect to the other players: opponents and teammates. I see it as equally insulting as a player skipping the national anthem(s) to start the game. Each game begins in peace, each game should end in peace.

I’m sorry if you feel differently than I do but professional sports are not like the typical jobs the rest if us have. Just as my job has different expectations and standards than Perfection’s job so should an Athletes job have different expectations and standards. The problem here is that we can have opinions on those standards but we don’t make them. Thus, even though I feel a certain way about this issue the only thing I can do about it is to teach my kids and their teammates that sports are more than winning and losing sides. In my professional life I live the same standard. I want people to know I do my work with pride and I try my hardest to represent my profession with dignity and the thought that I want others to do this kind of work when I am gone. A professional athlete should have the same consideration for the future of his/her sport.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 05/16/14 at 11:49 AM ET

perfection's avatar

Each game begins in peace, each game should end in peace.

I totally respect this view and honestly can’t argue with your well thought out points. My only response is that while in an bubble you are totally right, your post does not seem to acknowledge the incredible intensity of human emotion. Yes, Iginla is a classy dude who’s lost a lot in his career and knows hockey’s place in his priorities. But I think being on a favored team, losing in game 7 to a heated rival at least justifies why someone might still be too upset to handle the handshake the minute after the buzzer. I mean, if the handshake line was a half hour later, I don’t think we’d be talking about it. It’s a very volatile situation that, while kids may look up to these players, they are simply not ever in parallel situations. All games are not equal. Youth hockey isn’t anywhere close to as violent and the stakes aren’t anywhere close to as high. It’s a romantic ideal that these guys are simply role models for kids, but the reality is that they TRY to be while in the middle of something closer to war. Again, this isn’t a random hockey game we’re talking about… this is about as emotional as sport can get and while I’m not trying to defend Lucic (his behavior on the ice speaks for itself), I am saying that all these reactions fraught with shock and moral judgment are really overblown as it’s not all that surprising that ANY player might be too upset in that situation to handle the handshake. Does that mean he’s necessarily a bad pro or a bad person? I don’t think so. But I’m also an emotional person and can relate. Even five more minutes to cool down may in fact be the difference in acting like a “good sport” or a bad one

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 05/16/14 at 05:20 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.