Monday, July 26, 2010

Yappy Lappy

I hate to say this, but Maxim Lapierre is going to have to fight. I hate it because I think hockey should have evolved past fighting. The game is so fast, skilled and thrilling without fisticuffs, yet it's still part of the NHL. So, since it is, Lapierre is going to have to step up.

I was watching TSN count down the top ten agitators in hockey tonight, and one thing that stood out among them was that they didn't only yap and needle and annoy; they also backed it up when the guys they tormented turned on them. Lapierre got an honourable mention on the agitator list. Bob McKenzie pointed out the absolutely horrible faces he makes at his opponents. There's no doubt that's a brilliant agitating tactic, and Lapierre could be a total bastard to play against if he'd back it up.

Last year when he turtled against Steve Montador, he became a laughingstock. You don't mind an agitator who doesn't fight much, but one who dishes it out without the ability to ever take it is just distasteful. Sometimes, a guy has to put his fists where his big mouth is, or he borders on becoming a liability.

I think Maxim Lapierre is one of the few players who could be better by fighting. He's got speed, a little bit of offensive ability and those nasty faces he makes. If he could pound people who wanted a piece of him, he'd be truly fearsome. It wouldn't have to be every time, but often enough to send the message that there's a price to pay for spooning his own medicine back to him. One of my favourite moments from the last playoffs was when the Canadiens scored against Pittsburgh while Pens defenceman Brooks Orpik was behind the Habs net trying to murder Lapierre, instead of playing his position. That's what Lapierre is good at, but he'd be even better if people were not only annoyed by him, but afraid of him too.

The thing is, he can do it. He's not a small guy, and he's good on his skates. If he chose to take a few beatings to establish his reputation as a guy who'll back up his nonsense, then he'd be taken more seriously.

I honestly believe the days of the fighters in the NHL are numbered. There's too much better in the game to have room for fighting. But while it's still a part of hockey, teams don't really need guys like Georges Laraque anymore. They need fast guys who can kill penalties, make horrid faces and knock opponents on their asses when appropriate. They need the guy Maxim Lapierre could be if he took his aggressiveness to the other player's nose once in a while.

I like Lapierre. I think last year was an off-year for him, and he's capable of much better. If that means knocking some guys around once in a while, so be it.


Anonymous said...

Fighting on skates is an art unto itself. It takes skill and practise. Also, the player must be fearless and be willing to take a beating. Lapierre has never fought so that eliminates the skill and practise part of the equation which leaves us with second part, fearlessness and willingness to take a beating. I too would like to see him back up his BS on the ice but that's not going to happen. He is what he is and should be traded for whatever the Habs can get. I'd prefer Moore over Lapierre but I guess being french speaking he'll get at least one more chance to stick.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree. He is not a fighter. He is not good at it and what is the point of him getting in a fight and losing it all the time. It was like Tom Kostopolous. He would fight all the time, lose all the time and the other team would get momentum. Look at Mike Komisarek, he is not a good fighter, thought he could fight Lucic, lost each time and lost all of his mojo to the point where he lost any intimidation factor that he had prior. Lappy gets under peoples skin, leave the pointless fighting to others or don't bother at all.

Anonymous said...

Another excellent blog JT, keep us the great work.

Robert L said...

The thing about Lapierre dropping 'em, is that he wouldn't have to be selective and dish it out only with goons willing to go, he could also take out first and second line players if need be. It would be nice to see him drag a Crosby to the box once in a while! The downside, is occasional he would have his clock cleaned, no doubt.

Michael Whitehouse said...

For such a yappy guy, he's a rather gentlemanly player from a statistical standpoint. Last year, he averaged 0.8 penalty minutes per game, down from 1.13 in 2007-2008. You're right: he'd do well to balance those clownish faces with a few hard right crosses.

Anonymous said...

Never liked him and still don't-he is just another Claude Lemieux only not as good.He won't fight because he can't so what is his worth. Sorry JT but I disagree on this one !!

Anonymous said...

A yapper with no ability to fight is a liability on a team like the habs. We have one scrapper (Moen) and one potential scrapper (OB). We need a player in the 200+lbs range who can drop em if need be. Lapierre either fills that role or we will find someone who can.

White noticed that this was missing and spent more time scrapping and playing tough and is now in line to make the big club.

If Lapierre doesnt ramp up the toughness or score more I think this is his last year with the habs.

Anonymous said...

I dunno J.T. No one needs a player like post 2006 Laraque. BGL could play hockey years ago. He just never wanted to in Montreal, or really after leaving Edmonton. So I kind of think he is a bad example to throw in.

I believe Lapierre needs to think a bit more. Often he is all over the place, and more disruptive to his team than the opposition. He does have to stop running when challenged, and if that means dropping them, all the better.

In sports things heat up, and there are people who back down. I think that Maxim is one of those who back down. I'm not saying the guys who just fling the gloves and go charging after people twice their size, or much more experienced, are smarter than Max. I'm simply saying it is inside you, you can't stop it, and some people don't have that.

So that makes Lapierre a utility player. He doesn't have the drive to the net when the going gets rough, and he doesn't have the skill to be a perimeter player. He is with the team because he is marketable and no one better has come along to push him out. If he was a straight line, in your face, Hartnell type he'd be making 4 million a year, or more.

It ain't the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.

Anonymous said...

Bettman and his US cronies have legislated fighting out or relevance. It is not that fighting has no place in today's hockey, but rather new rules have made it impossible to implement as it once was used. Fighting was an instrument of intimidation and of insuring the safety of star players. Fighting used to be REAL and not some WWF staged stunt on the ice. John Ferguson and Chris Nilan would fight with a purpose and were driven by genuine emotion. Yes, fighting no longer belongs in hockey because there is no longer REAL fighting in hockey.