The Boston Bruins have confirmed to Boston Hockey Now that Bruins winger Milan Lucic has entered the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program.
Milan Lucic pleaded not guilty to a charge of assault and battery on a family member at his arraignment at the Suffolk County Superior Courthouse in Boston on Tuesday and was released on personal recognizance with a no-abuse order and no alcohol while the case is pending. A pre-trial date of Jan. 19 was set.
In a reply to an email request from Boston Hockey Now for a comment on Lucic formally being charged, the Boston Bruins public relations department replied with this statement:
‘The Boston Bruins have been in communication with the Lucic family, offering our support and assistance. The organization is supportive of Milan’s decision to enter the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance program. He remains on an indefinite leave of absence from the team. With respect to both his ongoing rehabilitation and the legal process, we will have no further comment at this time.’
The NHL and NHLPA started the player assistance program in 1996. It was created to assist players and their families in dealing with mental health, substance abuse, and other issues. The program allows players access to a confidential phone line, and counselors are available in every league city. There is no set time a player must spend in the program. Players continue to be paid while they step away from hockey and focus on themselves. No one can leave the program until they have been cleared by those running it.
Since the news broke on Saturday morning that Milan Lucic had been arrested for a domestic violence incident involving him and his wife, the Bruins have been nothing but supportive of the entire Lucic family, including him.
“The Boston Bruins are aware of the situation involving Milan Lucic Friday evening. Milan is taking an indefinite leave of absence from the team. The organization takes these matters very seriously, and we will work with the Lucic family to provide any support and assistance they may need.”
That was the initial statement made by the team to the Boston Herald and multiple news stations late Saturday morning.
“The biggest thing for us is we care a lot about their family,” Boston Bruins captain Brad Marchand said ahead of his team’s 5-2. win over the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden on Saturday night. “We’re a family in here. We’re all very, very close, so we’re also very concerned, you know, and upset for them and what they’re going through. We have a lot of support for Brittany (Lucic’s wife) and the kids and Lucic himself. Because of that respect for them, you know, that’s going to be it for now.”
After details of the arrest and allegations began to leak on Saturday night and into Sunday morning, including his wife saying in her 911 call that Milan Lucic tried to choke her, the Bruins still reserved comment on the allegations and the arrest and instead continued to express support.
“Right now, it’s all about support for ‘Brit’ [Brittany Lucic] and the kids, and Milan himself, and that’s it,” alternate captain Charlie McAvoy replied on Sunday when asked about the developing situation surrounding his teammate.
The team then headed out on a two-game road trip – with their fathers – that began with a 5-4 overtime loss to the Lightning in Tampa Bay on Tuesday night and that will conclude in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday night against the Florida Panthers. They did not have media availability on Tuesday, and only head coach Jim Montgomery will be made available to the media on Wednesday at 5:40 p.m. ET.