Manchester Storm’s latest signing Ned Lukacevic says he wants to put the past behind him after being announced for Ryan Finnerty’s side at the weekend.
The former Fife Flyers, Edinburgh Capitals and Coventry Blaze forward is returning to the UK, but his signing wasn’t exactly greeted with the warmest of affection by fans all over the league.
It’s something that irks the 33-year-old, who feels he has an unfair reputation, but at the same time, admits he hasn’t always made the right decision and he’s keen to show a more mature player from the one that left the Capitals in 2016.
“I admit there have been some situations that I perhaps have gotten myself into that weren’t good for me or my family, but there comes a time a player has to look at themselves and see where they could have done better,” he said.
“What’s unfortunate is some of the negativity that’s been around and it’s followed me around like a black cloud.
“I hate the fact that I’m judged on things that have happened before. I’m embarrassed by it, but I know I’m a good person and a great team-mate and someone who would do anything.
“There are a lot of naysayers and those that want to see me fail, but that gives me extra motivation. They don’t know my story. That’s the frustrating part.
“I can admit that I chased some dollar bills, or there were greener pastures, but all it did was hurt myself. I accept that now and people can say what they want.
“I have to look in the mirror and see there were times where I should have done more research in certain places and not make those decisions. What can I do? I can only look forward and I’m lucky for this chance.
“I have a lot to prove and I’m grateful Manchester and Ryan Finnerty are giving me this opportunity.”
It’s fair to say Ned’s career hasn’t quite gone the way certainly he would have liked as he spoke honestly about some of the issues he’s gone through to earn another crack at the Elite League.
Once a promising AHL player, with over 100 appearances, his movements have seen him bounce around, to borrow Ned’s own words, Germany, Sweden, Slovakia, UK, Hungary, Denmark, back to North American and more recently, France, with Tours in the second tier.
This opportunity with Storm, under Ryan Finnerty, gives him a chance at some degree of redemption and he admits he will be out to prove himself.
He added: “I’m excited and I’m looking at as a chance to show the UK and the rest of Europe that I’m still an elite level player and that I’ve put the past behind me and move forward.
“I’m grateful for the second chance, in a sense. Ever since I’ve gone to Europe, I don’t think it’s been a surprise that I’ve bounced around a few places.
🇲🇪 🇨🇦 Welcome to Manchester, Ned Lukacevic! 🇨🇦 🇲🇪
The LA Kings draft pick will bring vast experience to the side. ⛈ 👑
— Manchester Storm (@Mcr_Storm) July 27, 2019
“Sometimes, when teams see me, they’ll maybe say I’m a great hockey player, but then they see the resume and they automatically judge and they’ll think it’s something defective as a player or a person.
“Ryan took the time to call me and ask me about what happened. I admit that I got fired in Coventry then last year, I was fired in Denmark, but I use that loosely, because the team was in development and it wasn’t a good place for me and the team thought that too.
“As a pro, you have to grow up and Ryan got to know my story and the person I really am and was comfortable with that.
“There were places where I was forced to walk away on my own. That follows you around and it’s embarrassing, but it hurts more than I can say. I can’t live my life in the past anymore and need to look ahead, starting now with Manchester.
“It’s going to be a fun year and I think it could be a successful season for us.”