Milan Lucic said there is one moment that was more important than any other in getting him to his 1,000th NHL regular-season game.
The forward will reach that milestone when the Calgary Flames play at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; TVAS, SNO, SNW, NHL.TV), but the most important date in his journey came in July 2019.
Lucic had just finished the 2018-19 season with the Edmonton Oilers with the lowest output of his 14-season NHL career, scoring 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 79 games. He got a phone call came from Flames general manager Brad Treliving, who was hoping to convince Lucic to waive his no-trade clause and accept a trade to Calgary.
"I'm really happy I picked up that call, because when you're in Edmonton, you don't really want to talk to someone just down the road in Calgary because of the rivalry," Lucic said. "But I'm happy that I did."
After waiving the no-trade clause, Lucic was traded with a conditional third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft to Calgary on July 19, 2019 for forward James Neal. Now in his second season with the Flames, the 32-year-old said he's feeling more comfortable and effective in a defined role on the third line and on the power play.
He has scored 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 41 games this season for the Flames, who are fifth in the seven-team Scotia North Division, six points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens. The top four teams in the division make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He scored 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 68 regular-season games last season.