Some have voiced concern over Maxim Lapierre's potential effect on the dressing room. He'll be fine.
By now, you're probably aware of deadline acquisitions Chris Higgins and Maxim Lapierre, the two forwards the Canucks picked up at yesterday's trade deadline (and also: MacGregor "NC" Sharp, where the NC stands for "Nobody Cares" but, true to the nickname I just gave him, nobody cares). It's been almost 24 hours since the deals went down, so we apologize for being a bit slow on the take. Now seems like a good time to point out that PITB's not in the business of strictly covering the news. News reporters do that. We're bloggers, and as such, we're much more adept at waiting in the weeds to disagree with people. And being unemployable.
Anyway. Speaking of disagreement, I'd like to take a moment to address the negative reactions to the Maxim Lapierre acquisition. On paper, Lapierre fits the Canucks' needs. It was well-known that the team was after a gritty, depth center with some recent playoff experience, and Lapierre met those requirements while coming relatively cheap, both in asking price and cap hit. However, Lapierre also has some attributes that give pause. Most assumed the Canucks would pick up a mature, seasoned, veteran type--quiet, likable and disciplined. Lapierre is not those things. He's got a reputation as a yapper and a pest, prone to infuriating as well as the occasional undisciplined penalty. These, of course, are qualities from which the Canucks have successfully moved away in recent times. The immediate concern is that Lapierre might disrupt the delicate balance in the dressing room.
But that's probably not gonna happen. Here are six reasons I suspect Maxim Lapierre will fit in just fine:
1. The Canucks have a commitment to maturity. Again, that's a commitment, or, put another way, an organizational mandate. We've talked, in the past, about the new Zen approach the team has taken this season, cutting down on emotion, chirping, taking stupid penalties, and arguing with officials. Effectively, they grew up, and we need to remember that this required a total buy-in from the players, some of whom modeled their games on a completely antithetical approach. I suspect someone will remember to inform Lapierre as to how the team does business. Ryan Kesler or Alex Burrows (if the talk needs to happen in French) seems a likely candidate, which would be appropriate because:
2. The Canucks got through to Kesler and Burrows, and seriously, these guys were pests supreme (pests with sour cream, nacho cheese, tomatoes, green onions and ground beef). If the Canucks were able to get Kesler and Burrows to buy in, something tells me Maxim Lapierre is also breakable. He'll likely be accommodating, especially when he can see firsthand in Ryan Kesler the benefits of playing a more mature game. One benefit is increased leadership responsibilities, which brings me to point number three:3. The leadership core on this team is solid. Kesler is a part of that core, and you'd have to think he knows what to say to a super pest, having recently outgrown such ranks. But Kesler is also part of a leadership group that includes Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Manny Malhotra, Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa, and Roberto Luongo. Granted, a player can blow up a room. It happens. But if you ask anyone for a recent example of a player accomplishing this ignominious feat, they'll bring up Sean Avery, and let me be clear on one thing: Dallas's leadership group didn't get nearly enough blame for that fiasco. Their leadership core is suspect. We saw evidence in all four matches with the Stars this season. People were so busy judging Sean Avery that nobody stopped to point out that, in a room full of integrity and character guys, one idiot simply can't do what he did. The Canucks aren't at risk here. This group is too tight-knit. Heck, the freaking captain has a twin brother. There's no way Lapierre disrupts this room. From Henrik Sedin, with the quote of the year, via Iain Mcintyre: It's not about five or six guys; we have 20 to 23 guys doing exactly the same thing. You'd have to really be a prick to change that many people. True that, especially since:
4. Lapierre's a deadline pickup, and that matters. Justin Bourne recently took us inside the mind of deadline acquisitions when he pointed out that, as the new guy in a room with an established pecking order, you simply shut up and play hard. Really, there's no better time to pick up a guy of Lapierre's ilk than at the deadline, when the mood of the room is already set. Lapierre's the new guy; he's going to have to assimilate on the fly. There's no time to not fit in; he's going to be much too busy trying to fit in. He'll be motivated, too, because:
5. This is a pretty great situation for him. Lapierre's been brought to a Stanley cup contender, and all they ask is that he contributes and doesn't disrupt the room. These are not difficult requests. As I said earlier, it's a tough room to disrupt, and the contributions the Canucks are asking for are fairly meager. Unlike in Anaheim, where he was expected to be a third-line guy, the Canucks simply need him to be fourth-line good. In other words: not that good. Heck, he's really only being asked to do things he's good at: play sound defensively, contribute on the penalty kill, hit, and agitate. Don't think Lapierre isn't aware that this is a great opportunity, either, and I suspect he's happy to have been sought. The top-ranked team in the NHL wanted him as a final piece, and that has to be somewhat inspirational. In such cases, all you can do is give your all, try to reward that faith, and try not to screw things up, which shouldn't be too hard because:
6. He's not as undisciplined as you've heard. Chatter says otherwise, but it's not quite true. His former team in Montreal is undisciplined (evidenced by this season's epic tilt with Boston that featured 14 goals and 187 penalty minutes). Playing for that team, it's pretty tough to look like a paragon of composure. However, after leaving Montreal in late December, Lapierre only picked up two minor penalties during his stint with Anaheim. In short: not only is he capable of disciplined play, he's willing to make adjustments to his game for a new team.