Will the Boston Bruins stay the course with veteran winger Milan Lucic until his legal issues are resolved?
That question and the sad, disturbing situation Lucic, his family, and the team still find themselves in have not been addressed by the team since his Nov. 19 domestic abuse arrest, but truth be told, the Boston Bruins haven’t exactly been asked about it. With the exception of statements expressing support for Milan Lucic and his family in the immediate aftermath of Lucic’s arrest, the Bruins – and Lucic – have remained silent on the matter as the legal process runs its course. Speaking of, Lucic’s domestic abuse case will go to trial on Feb. 16. after his wife, Brittany, did not drop the charges against her husband, and Lucic appeared for his pre-trial hearing at Boston Municipal Court via Zoom on Jan. 19.
As for his status with the Boston Bruins, Lucic remains on indefinite leave and long-term injury reserve but is still a member of the Boston Bruins. By all accounts, the Bruins appear entrenched in the innocent until proven-guilty stance and will continue to support Lucic and his family until the case is decided in court. The morality of that decision is surely up for debate considering that NHL players have been suspended or had their contracts terminated by their teams in similar situations.
Under the CBA’s morality clause, the Bruins could’ve and still could fine, suspend, or even terminate Lucic’s one-year, $1 million contract. The “Morality Clause” of the Standard Player Contract (SPC) states that a team can terminate a deal with a player who breaches the contract with “conduct detrimental to the best interest of the Club. Each player must ‘agree to conduct himself on and off the rink according to the highest standards of honesty, morality, fair play, and sportsmanship and to refrain from conduct detrimental to the best interest of the Club, the League, or professional hockey generally.’
As was the case when the Los Angeles Kings terminated the contract of Mike Richards after he was arrested at the border for illegal possession of prescription drugs in 2015, the Bruins can choose to terminate Lucic’s contract and be free of the remaining $416,667 left on his cap hit. Currently, they are actually free from his cap hit as Lucic remains on long-term injury reserve. However, while they may be gaining cap space while Lucic remains on long-term injury reserve, they are unable to utilize the pro-rated cap hits with players on expiring contracts they might acquire until Lucic comes off long-term injured reserve. For example, if the Bruins were to acquire Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm, a potential 2024 unrestricted free agent, they would be on the hook for Lindholm’s full $4.85 million cap hit and not the current pro-rated $2.02 million.
Unless damning evidence that all but guaranteed a guilty verdict surfaces between now and the end of the season, the Bruins likely won’t part ways with Lucic using the Morality Clause and will likely figure the situation out in the offseason.