It would have been difficult for Maxim Lapierre to ask the Montreal Canadiens to trade him. The 25-year-old grew up in Montreal, was drafted in the second round by the Canadiens in 2003 and had never played for another NHL organization.
Maybe that’s why he didn’t ask for a trade.
“I think since the new coach Jacques Martin came in Montreal, my ice time was going down every game,” Lapierre said in a telephone interview Friday. “It was a tough year last year. I was patient. This year was enough. I didn’t have the ice time I wanted here and every time I had good ice time, I proved that I can do well. Maybe I wasn’t part of the plan anymore, so that’s why I didn’t ask for a trade, but I asked where I figured in the team’s plans.”
Lapierre is hoping that Friday’s trade, which sent minor-league defenseman Brett Festerling and a fifth-round 2012 draft pick to the Canadiens, represents a fresh start. He has a reputation as a “pest” -which sometimes includes hits like this one on Scott Nichol in March, which drew a four-game suspension from the NHL -but insists that he can do more on a regular basis than just agitate.
“That was a problem here,” he said of his reputation. “I know I can bring more than what I was bringing to this team. I’ve always been an offensive player in junior. I guess I’m a 2-way player that was looking for a chance to prove himself. When Guy Carbonneau was the coach, I was playing way more.”
Lapierre was leading the Canadiens in both hits (104) and penalty minutes (63) at the time of the trade, to go along with his five goals and three assists. His average ice time was 11:41, but he hadn’t played more than that in a single game since Dec. 11.
He’s played both right wing and center, and the Ducks might need him more at the pivot with captain Ryan Getzlaf out indefinitely.
According to a team spokesperson, Getzlaf received an additional CT scan Friday and visited with a specialist (a maxillofacial surgeon). The CT scan showed that the nasal sinus fractures are non-displaced and stable. However, more evaluation of the bone breaks are needed over the next several days before a definitive expected absence can be determined.
For Lapierre, that likely means more ice time – which can only be a good thing.
“I’m really anxious to play for the Ducks,” he said. “I know they’re a great team, they’re fighting for a spot in the playoffs. That’s the type of challenge I’m looking forward to.”
8:45 p.m. update: Ducks general manager Bob Murray said that acquiring Lapierre had nothing to do with the timing of the Getzlaf injury.
“He’s one of those guys we identified before,” Murray said. “It had nothing to do with Getzlaf being injured, this is one of the guys we had available. You’re not going to replace Ryan Getzlaf, so this didn’t have a lot to do with that.”
Murray also believes in Lapierre’s two-way talent and energy: “We think he can be a real good two-way player in a third-line, fourth-line role somewhere. We don’t know how the chemistry is going to work but he should contribute at both ends of the ice.”
As for Festerling, who’s been in the organization since 2007, Murray had no complaints.
“I think he’s a great kid. I think he gave us everything he had,” the GM said. “He was a wonderful free agent signing. He became a little bit frustrated. I talked to his agent a little while ago, so it’s a fresh opportunity for him. He’s a great kid, he played really good for our organization. No complaints. I think he’s got a little bit of a chance there, Montreal’s got a few injuries on the back end. It’s a bit of a chance for him and good for him. He stepped up and did good things for our organization. He never complained. Nothing but the best for Brett.”