DANVERS — Even though the NHL lockout has made the sight of hockey players scarce, students at Riverside Elementary School got more than their fill of Bruins star Milan Lucic during a visit yesterday.
Students screamed and cheered for the fan favorite as he patiently took questions, signed hats and shirts, and posed for pictures with students and staff.
Lucic, a 24-year-old Vancouver native, deftly handled both simple and penetrating questions from the kids, revealing he’d had a broken nose five times, he has two brothers, and hockey is his favorite sport. Lucic said he has scored 90 goals in the NHL, 26 last year. He also said he drives a Porsche.
Fifth-grader Sophia Carmilia asked who were his best friends on the team, and Lucic said he is friends with everyone, but his best friends are Nathan Horton and Johnny Boychuk.
At one point, he waded into the throng and sat between fifth-graders Steve Pieroni and Katherine Farrell to pose for a group picture. Katherine and Steve both said the experience was “awesome.”
After asking for his autograph, Katherine said she told Lucic “his muscles are huge.”
Lucic laughed when asked, since he was so good with the kids, whether he’d consider going into teaching after his NHL career.
“I just like to have fun with them,” he said. “I remember when I was their age, and getting to meet or even see a hockey player was a big thrill for me. So I try to make the experience as enjoyable as I can for them, because really, when I do something like this ... it’s not about me, it’s about them.”
Lucic was at Riverside to bring school supplies collected during a drive during his charitable Rock & Jock Softball game held in Lowell this summer. The event and yesterday’s visit were sponsored by NMTW Community Credit Union, which has a branch in Danvers.
Lucic also had some financial advice for the students. He said he was about 9 years old when he opened his first bank account.
“I remember when I was 12 years old, I was able to buy my very own, first hockey stick,” Lucic said.
When asked what he bought when he first became a star, Lucic said: “I still save all my money, as much as I can, but the first thing that I bought when I joined the NHL, I bought my very own car, and that was a cool thing, too.”
Just before the lockout, Lucic signed a three-year, $18 million contract extension, according to various news reports.
Parent Angela Tsiumis asked the question that was on a lot of hockey fans’ minds: “When are you going to start playing again?”
“Hopefully, soon,” Lucic said.
“Will you come to a PAC meeting, I think you might raise a lot of money for us,” Tsiumis said, laughing.
“Sure,” Lucic said.
“Woo!” Tsiumis said. “I’ve got that recorded.”
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.