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World Championship

Flames’ Lucic Looking To Extend NHL Career, Win With Team Canada



Calgary Flames Milan Lucic

One of a few Calgary Flames with UFA status this summer, Milan Lucic wrangled himself another audition for NHL teams that might be interested in his services next season.

Along with teammates MacKenzie Weegar and Tyler Toffoli, Lucic has aspirations of winning gold with Team Canada at the IIHF World Hockey Championships this month.

And according to Ian Mendes, who is overseas covering the tournament for The Athletic, it was Lucic who reached out for an opportunity to wear the Maple Leaf for the first time since the Olympic summer orientation camps in 2010 and 2014.

He didn’t make the final cut for either squad, so his last competitive showing for Team Canada was in the Super Series U-20 exhibition tournament in 2007, celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Canada/Russia Summit Series.

Clearly the request was granted, and Lucic and Weegar are both alternate captains with Lucic’s best NHL bud Tolloli wearing the captain’s C.

His gritty NHL protector and fourth line grinder role may not translate perfectly on the international ice but it’s the perfect chance to show the other ways he can contribute.

He said at the end of the season he wanted his NHL career to continue and felt relief that the pressure of the seven-year, $42-million deal he signed with the Edmonton Oilers in 2016 was coming to an end.

It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion the Calgary Flames are moving on and looking at more youth to fill their forward ranks, so  this year’s worlds in Latvia is the perfect opportunity for the soon-to- be 35-year-old Lucic to show he deserves a chance somewhere else.

“It’s not the main reason I’m here. It’s a little part of it. And to use that as motivation, that’s something I can do,” Lucic told Mendes. “But, for me, this is about winning over here. I think this is one of the biggest honours as an athlete to wear the Team Canada jersey. So this is going to mean a lot.

“I’m probably old as far as hockey years go, but in real life, I’m still very young. I feel very young.”
Lucic is far from his best days in the world best league, but his competitive fire keeps burning. He’s not ready to give up the dream he worked so hard for just because outsiders suggest it may be time.

“It’s the love of the game. Deep down, I still feel like I’m healthy enough to play. I’m young at heart. I love competing. I love practicing,” he said. “And to be part of a team that’s striving for something, I don’t want to just let that feeling go away. It’s something that I’m still motivated by.”

The Flames may be done, but Lucic’s quest to win continues.

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