BOSTON — David Singer is the world's preeminent on-ice violence expert. Since 1999, he has cataloged pugilistic skaters on hockeyfights.com, the sport's one true almanac of punches, grabs and smashes.
"We're just providing information," says Singer, a New York City-based Web developer whose site receives 8 million page views per month, "on many guys who've been ignored."
Not long ago, Milan Lucic was one such anonymous brawler. When the Boston Bruins selected the Vancouver native with the 50th overall pick in the 2006 NHL draft, he was big and strong, but didn't resemble the slick, highly skilled forwards clubs covet.
Then, on Oct. 5, 2007, during his professional debut, he dropped the gloves for the first time. Lucic didn't quite knock Dallas Stars right winger Brad Winchester out of his Bauers, but earned an overwhelming 79.3 percent approval rating on hockeyfights.com. Comments poured in like valentines.
Cabsf15e: This kid is pretty strong for a 19-year-old pup, not to mention tough!
Islandersfan39: Winchester had the size and Lucic had the (um, guts).
Cue the "Raging Bull" score. By hockeyfights.com's tally, the rookie led the Bruins in fights (13) last season and finished second in penalty minutes (89). But surprisingly, there was substance beyond the brawn.
"He does what seems like everything on the ice," Singer says.
Not only did he hit with the force of a supercharged Zamboni, he collected 27 points (8 goals, 19 assists) while drawing stylistic comparisons to all-time greats Terry O'Reilly and Cam Neely. It made sense. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Lucic, Massachusetts' most popular left winger this side of Ted Kennedy, is built like a heavyweight boxer.
"He's got the body to back it up," Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference says. "He's not scared, whether it's a big, tough guy on the other side, or whatever. He enjoys getting involved."