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Fact: Lapierre is coming off a disappointing season. Fact: No one knows that more than Lapierre himself. Fact: He’s ready for a breakout year.
“Let’s be honest, this wasn’t my best year,” admitted Lapierre after signing his one-year pact with the Habs on Tuesday. “We were looking at a longer term deal, but it just wasn’t the time to get greedy. I’m focused on getting ready for next season, bouncing back and then we’ll do this all over again next year.”
After seeing his production drop from a career-high 15 goals in 2008-09 to just seven this past year, Lapierre knows the 2010-11 season will be a pivotal one for him. The 25-year-old not only took full blame for the dip in his numbers, he provided the precise location he was pinning his lackluster season on.
“My injured ankle from two seasons ago took a while to heal and I didn’t feel right until late in the season,” revealed Lapierre. “My speed is my biggest asset and I didn’t have it back until the playoffs. I kept working hard but I couldn’t take my game to the level I wanted to. I knew I could do more.”
He isn’t alone in that club. The St-Leonard native can also count his head coach and the entire organization among those who believe the best has yet to come for the Habs’ second round pick from 2003.
“I’m confident about what’s ahead for me in 2010-11. When I sat down with Jacques and management after the playoffs it was clear that this season was already forgotten and I know what’s expected from me,” explained the 6-foot-2 pivot. “They trust me and I trust them. I just have another year to show what I can do. What I did two years ago and during the playoffs is the real Maxim Lapierre. This is the time for me to prove that.”
Ask anyone on the Capitals’, Penguins’ or Flyers’ rosters and they’ll tell you they got fully-acquainted with the real Maxim Lapierre during the postseason. With the feisty forward at his sandpaper best this spring, no opposing player was spared his unique on-ice “people” skills. At the peak of his chirping game and throwing his body around with reckless abandon, Lapierre led the Habs in hits and tossed in a few big goals for good measure.
“This is a big year for me to show the kind of player I can really be,” understated Lapierre. “I want to play with this team for a long time and finish my career where it started – right here with the Canadiens.”
Fact: the 2010-11 season can’t come soon enough for Lapierre.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com
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