The enforcer position in the NHL is all but extinct, and analytics nerds will tell you that's a good thing. On one hand they're right. The more speed and skill on ice the better. On the other hand, sometimes you just wish your favorite team had a guy that would sock an opponent in the face when they stepped out of line. A guy like Milan Lucic.
Lucic is the last of his kind in the current NHL. The 31-year-old has been wreaking havoc on the ice for 13 years, eight of those spent with the Boston Bruins, one with the L.A. Kings, three with the Edmonton Oilers and now one game with his new squad, the Calgary Flames. On Thursday night the Flames were in Colorado to face the Avalanche, and Lucic wasted absolutely no time endearing himself to his new teammates.
Late in the second period, Avs defenseman Nikita Zadorov made a huge, seemingly clean hit along the boards on Flames center Austin Czarnik, who immediately fell to the ice and appeared to be injured. Zadorov was called for boarding, but Lucic stepped in and took matters into his own hands, literally, socking Zadorov in the face while he wasn't looking:
Lucic's "POW, right in the kisser!" earned him a hefty dose of time in the box, 17 minutes to be exact. Two for instigating, five for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct. Zadorov went off for fighting as well, in addition to his boarding penalty.
Not surprisingly, the social media debate began to rage on. Lucic is one of the more hated players in the NHL, at least by fans of teams he's never played for. But apparently, Zadorov has a history with this stuff, so some folks believed Lucic's right hook was a long time coming.
Nobody riles up the hockey masses quite like Lucic. He's as divisive of a figure as they come. Love him or hate him, you have to respect that he's still somehow relevant in a game begging him to be irrelevant.