Maxim Lapierre, a veteran of 10 NHL seasons, is looking to get back into the NHL. He said as much to TVA Sports on Tuesday, saying he’d even consider a two-way deal to get a NHL sweater on his back.
That’s notable, because the lack of a one-way deal was part of what drove him to Europe last season. He wasn’t interested in a PTO or two-way deal.
He left North America to play for Modo in Sweden’s SHL. There he scored eight goals and 19 points in 34 games before heading to the Swiss NLA to play for HC Lugano. There he put up four points in six regular season games and contributed another four points in 15 postseason contests.
“My speed helped me a lot to adapt to the European style of play and bigger rinks,” Lapierre told TVA Sports. “They thought I wouldn’t touch the puck because I was an agitator in the NHL, but to get (to the NHL), you also have to have the skills.”
While he found a little success in stretches, the decision to leave Modo in the middle of the season was not popular. There were reported conflicts with the coaching staff over his style of play, that wound up with him posting a minus-17 rating and getting benched shortly before he left the team.
Team captain Byron Ritchie didn’t pull any punches when asked to address the situation after Lapierre left:
I can tell you this, 100% the players in the dressing room are fully committed to the coaching staff and general manager. Obviously Max was not on board. Disrespectful to the coaches and teammates. When someone is given three options like he was, in my mind it’s pretty standard that you’d take the first option and that was to respect the team, coaches and play the way the team is supposed to play… It’s not saying much about your character… You don’t walk out on a team like that. You’re pretty much stomping on Modo Hockey. If that’s the attitude he has, then it’s best that he’s gone. We want players that want to be here, that have pride for the team, the community, for Modo Hockey… The media is all over the coaching staff, but I think that’s really unfair. Coaching staff was more than patient with him… Max can bring some negative energy to the team at times, with the way he acts out.
Ritchie was candid on a level you don’t often see in any professional sport.
For Lapierre, he was able to find some success elsewhere, and it ready to come back to the NHL. He hasn’t completely ruled out the possibility of playing in Europe again, but he showed that he may still have enough in the tank to contribute in a depth role for a NHL club.