Sabres goalie calls Lucic hit outside crease 'gutless'

Perhaps Milan Lucic's actions Saturday night will re-open the long-standing NHL debate about goalies being fair game outside their crease as the league's 30 general managers prepare for meetings this week.

Hockey Night in Canada's P.J. Stock suggests Miller, other netminders should be fair game

Players from the Bruins, including Johnny Boychuk (55) and Zdeno Chara (33), scuffle with the Sabres as Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller gets up after being decked by Boston's Milan Lucic on a breakaway in the first period. (Michael Dwyer/Associated Press)

Perhaps Milan Lucic’s actions Saturday night will re-open the long-standing National Hockey League debate about goalies being fair game outside their crease as the league's 30 general managers prepare for meetings this coming week in Toronto.

At 13:12 of the first period, the Boston Bruins power forward steamrolled Miller at the faceoff dot after the Buffalo Sabres goalie played the puck to negate a breakaway by Lucic, causing his mask to fly off.

As he sat on the ice, Miller swung his stick at Lucic just before two Sabres pounced on the six-foot-three, 230-pound Bruin, who was assessed a minor penalty for charging.

"I was going full speed so it was pretty hard for me to put on the brakes. So that's basically it," Lucic was quoted in a tweet by Buffalo News reporter John Vogl.

'Fifty pounds on me, and he runs me like that? ... That was gutless. Gutless. Piece of [feces].' — Sabres goalie Ryan Miller on Bruins forward Milan Lucic

Miller was replaced to start the third period by Jhonas Enroth but it wasn’t clear if he had suffered an injury in the collision. He stuck around to address the media after the game, won 6-2 by Boston.

"I just stuck around because I wanted to say what a piece of [feces] I think Lucic is," Miller, who was pulled for the second time in three starts, was quoted in Vogl's blog on the Buffalo News website. "Fifty pounds on me, and he runs me like that? It’s unbelievable.

"Everyone in [Boston] see him as a big, tough, solid player. I respected him for how hard he plays. That was gutless. Gutless. Piece of [feces]."

P.J. Stock of Hockey Night in a Canada, a former Bruins enforcer, said he loved Lucic hitting Miller.

"If you’re coming out to play the puck that far, why can’t you hit him? Why should he be any different than a defenceman or a forward?" said Stock, who racked up 523 penalty minutes in 235 NHL regular-season games with the New York Rangers, Montreal, Philadelphia and Boston.

'Not a dirty hit'

"It’s not a dirty hit. It’s not to the head. … I have no problem with that whatsoever."

Fellow HNIC panelist Mike Milbury, a defenceman with the Bruins in the 1970s and ‘80s, agreed with Stock saying Miller should have been "fair game."

HNIC host Ron MacLean, who is a Level 5 referee for Hockey Canada, said Lucic was late on the hit — raising an eyebrow from Stock — and would have given him a roughing penalty.

The Sabres didn’t come to Miller’s defence, save for a few shoves by forward Thomas Vanek and defenceman Andrej Sekera.

Tough guy Paul Gaustad, who was on the ice with Vanek, Sekera, Tyler Myers and Jason Pominville, appeared to regret not taking action.

"I can do more," he was quoted by Vogl. "I’m embarrassed that we didn’t respond the way we should have. It falls on myself. I look at myself first, and I wasn’t good enough.

"We didn’t push back. There’s no reason to be scared. We had to go after it, and we didn’t."

When approached after the game about that particular quote, Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff said, "Paul was on the ice."

Can you say internal issues?

Lucic added the Bruins wouldn’t have stood idly by if a Buffalo player took out their netminder Tim Thomas.

"We wouldn’t accept anything like that," he said. "We would’ve taken care of business but we are a different team than they are."

Those are fightin’ words and no doubt will be repeated leading up to the next matchup between the Bruins and Sabres on Nov. 23 in Buffalo.


Doug Harrison has covered the professional and amateur scene as a senior writer for CBC Sports since 2003. Previously, the Burlington, Ont., native covered the NHL and other leagues for Follow the award-winning journalist @harrisoncbc