Sunday, December 6, 2020

Maxim Lapierre Autographed Card

As the NHL and NHLPA negotiate a return to play for the 2020-21 season, others like Maxim Lapierre look the other way, as the feisty pest announced his retirement earlier today.

His career was going great in Europe, the sixth-leading scorer on a team that finished third in the DEL (Berlin Polar Bears) after three seasons starring for famed Swiss team Lugano HC as a point-per-game, two-PIM-per-game player who elevated his game in the postseason, strong off a bronze medal win at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics with Team Canada after securing a tryout from a strong showing at the Spengler Cup.

His last taste of NHL action came with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2014-15, and you got the sense that they acquired him only because he was the best in the league at getting under Sidney Crosby's skin, instead of having him line up in the bottom-six to stop the other team from scoring.

He may not have been a first-liner, but he's had a heck of a career; Montréal Canadiens fans will remember him obtaining points in his first four NHL games, getting Selke votes and finishing +9 under Guy Carbonneau during a 15-goal, 28-point career-best 2008-09 season, and scoring the game-winner against the Pens in the series-tying game of the magical 2010 playoff run; Vancouver Canucks fans will remember him starring alongside Alexandre Burrows, Kevin Bieksa, Ryan Kesler and Raffi Torres - a veritable "who's who" of the most referee-triggering NHLers not named Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara or Brendan Gallagher - on the team that blew a 3-2 Stanley Cup Final win in 2011, with Lapierre scoring the game-winner that brought the Canucks to within one game of their first championship.

When Montréal journalists called Alain Vigneault, his Prince Edward Island Rocket head coach (who would also be the Canucks' head coach a decade later) to inquire about the type of player he was, Vigneault said he would "need to work hard to make it to the NHL", that he was "not a natural scorer", but that he'd "take 20 like him" on his team.

So today I tip my hat to a veteran of 614 regular-season NHL games with five teams (he also suited up briefly with the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues), scoring 65 goals with 74 assists for 139 points and also making it onto the score sheet with 586 penalty minutes while doing so, with an additional 7 goals, 8 assists, 15 points and 144 PIMs in 80 playoff games. Here he is wearing the Canadiens' white (away) uniform with the team's Centennial shoulder patches on card #223 from Upper Deck's 2010-11 O-Pee-Chee set:
He signed it in blue sharpie while with the Canucks (2011-13) or Blues (2013-15). I'd like him to sign this retro Habs jersey I have of his some day:
He currently co-hosts the weekly La Poche Bleue podcast with fellow retiree Guillaume Latendresse, possibly preparing for a media career in a few years.

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