March 29, 1985 |
Saint-Léonard, QC, CAN
|Height||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Weight||207 lb (94 kg; 14 st 11 lb)|
|NHL Draft||61st overall, 2003
Maxim Lapierre (born March 29, 1985) is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward currently playing for the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League (NHL). Drafted out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), he was selected 61st overall in 2003 by the Montreal Canadiens. He spent parts of his first three professional seasons with the Canadiens' minor league affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League (AHL) before playing his first full NHL season in 2008–09. Lapierre spent five-and-a-half seasons in the Canadiens organization before being traded to the Anaheim Ducks in December 2010. Two months later, he was traded again to the Canucks and helped the team to the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, where they lost to the Boston Bruins.
Lapierre was born in Saint-Léonard, Quebec, and grew up in Repentigny. Beginning to play hockey at age nine, Lapierre's midget team was based out of Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec. One of his teammates, Jean-Francois Jacques, went on to play with him on the Hamilton Bulldogs, as well.
During the 2001–02 season, Lapierre made his Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) debut with the Montreal Rocket, appearing in nine games, during which time he scored two goals. Playing in his first full QMJHL season in 2002–03, Lapierre 22 goals and 43 points over 72 games. He added four points in seven playoff games. Following his rookie year in the juniors, Lapierre was selected in the second round, 61st overall, of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens. Following his draft, Lapierre was returned to junior early in the Canadiens' 2003 training camp. His QMJHL club had relocated to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, to become the PEI Rocket in 2003–04. Lapierre recorded a junior career-high 61 points over 67 games in his third season with the Rocket. Remaining in junior ranks for a fourth season in 2004–05, he recorded 52 points over 69 games.
In the off-season, he was signed by the Canadiens to a three-year, entry-level contract on July 28, 2005. Lapierre played his first professional season in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Canadiens' minor league affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs. He was called up to the NHL in November 2005 for a five-day stint, playing his first NHL game on November 15 against the Florida Panthers. He registered three minutes of ice time in 4–3 Canadiens win, his lone NHL game during the 2005–06 season. In the AHL, Lapierre recorded 13 goals and 36 points over 73 games with the Bulldogs.
During the 2006–07 season, Lapierre received four separate call-ups from Hamilton. Playing in the first game of a call-up in December, he registered his first career NHL point in a 4–3 win against the Boston Bruins, earning the first assist on the game-winning goal by Guillaume Latendresse on December 12, 2006. The following game, he scored his first NHL goal in a 4–2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning, tipping a Mike Komisarek shot past goaltender Marc Denis. In late-January 2007, he received his last call-up of the campaign, remaining with the club until the end of the NHL regular season. Over 46 NHL games, he recorded 6 goals and 6 assists, while also tallying 24 points over 37 games in the AHL.
With Montreal not qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs, he was sent back to the Bulldogs for their 2007 playoff season. Hamilton advanced to the Calder Cup Finals, where they defeated the Hershey Bears in five games. Lapierre scored a goal and an assist in Hamilton's 2–1 win in the championship-deciding game. He totaled 12 points (6 goals and 6 assists) in 22 playoff games.
After competing for a Canadiens roster spot in the 2007 NHL pre-season, Lapierre was returned to the Bulldogs to start the 2007–08 season. On December 5, 2007, he was recalled to the Canadiens, earning a role as the club's third or fourth line centre. His time with the Canadiens increased as he spent 53 games in the NHL with 7 goals and 18 points, while registering 14 points over 19 games in the AHL.
By the 2008–09 campaign, he had established himself as a full-time NHLer and earned a roster spot with the Canadiens out of training camp for the first time in his career. Just over a month into the season, he was elbowed in the head by opposing forward Jarkko Ruutu during a game against the Ottawa Senators on November 11, 2008. Lapierre was not injured on the play, while Ruutu received a two-game suspension for the infraction. The following month, Lapierre recorded a Gordie Howe hat trick (a goal, an assist and a fight) in a 6–2 win against the New York Rangers on December 4, 2008. Later that month, on December 29, 2008, Lapierre recorded his first career NHL hat trick during a 5–2 win against the Florida Panthers. Lapierre had a career year in 2008–09, finishing with 15 goals and 13 assists for 28 points over 79 games. After going scoreless in four playoff games, as the Canadiens were eliminated in the first round by the Boston Bruins, it was revealed that Lapierre had played the majority of the season in pain with an ankle injury. He underwent surgery in the off-season, recovering in time for the 2009 training camp.
Lapierre's offensive production decreased to 14 points in 2009–10, his lowest total in the NHL since his rookie season. On March 5, 2010, Lapierre was suspended four games for a hit against opposing forward Scott Nichol during a game against the San Jose Sharks the previous day. Nichol left the game injured after Lapierre pushed him from behind, causing him to crash into the end boards. In addition to the suspension, Lapierre lost approximately $14,000 in pay, which went to the NHL Players Association's emergency fund. In the 2010 playoffs, Lapierre helped the Canadiens advance to the semifinals, scoring goals in Game 6 of the first round against the Washington Capitals and the second round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, both elimination games. The Canadiens were eliminated in the third round by the Philadelphia Flyers; Lapierre finished the playoff season with 3 goals and 1 assist in 19 games.
Anaheim and Vancouver
After five-and-a-half seasons playing within the Canadiens organization, Lapierre was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for defenceman Brett Festerling and a fifth-round draft pick in 2012 on December 31, 2010. He made his Ducks debut on January 5, 2011, in a 4–1 loss to the Nashville Predators. The following game, he recorded his first point as a Duck, assisting on a goal by Matt Beleskey in a 6–0 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Lapierre played 21 games with the Ducks, recording three assists in that span, before being dealt again prior to the NHL trade deadline on February 28, 2011. He was sent to the Vancouver Canucks, along with forward MacGregor Sharp, in exchange for minor-league forward Joel Perrault, and a third-round draft pick in 2012.
Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault had reportedly recommended him to general manager Mike Gillis, having coached Lapierre in junior. Upon his arrival in Vancouver, Lapierre's reputation as an agitator was addressed by Vigneault and he was asked to reduce activity in between whistles, such as trash talking and unnecessary hits. Lapierre scored his first goal as a Canuck on March 16, 2011, in a 4–2 win against the Colorado Avalanche. While the Canucks originally acquired Lapierre with the intention of playing him on the fourth line, he soon moved up to the third with the injury of Manny Malhotra late in the season. Between Montreal, Anaheim and Vancouver, he finished the season with 6 goals and 6 assists over 78 games. Centring the third line with wingers Raffi Torres and Jannik Hansen during the 2011 playoffs, Lapierre added 3 goals and 5 points over 25 games. He helped Vancouver reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 17 years. During the Finals, Lapierre scored the only goal of Game 5 against the Boston Bruins, helping Vancouver to a 1–0 win. With a 3–2 lead in the series, the Canucks went on to lose the next two contests, losing the Stanley Cup in seven games. Set to become an restricted free agent in the off-season, Lapierre was re-signed by Vancouver to a two-year, $2 million contract on June 27, 2011.
Lapierre is known primarily as a checking forward, centring either the third or fourth line. He has a reputation as an agitator, distracting and provoking opposing players to take penalties. He plays with an aggressive edge and led all Canadiens forward in hits in his last full season with the club. Defensively responsible, he earns time on the penalty kill. In 2008–09, he ranked third on the Canadiens in average short handed time on ice per game.
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