Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/1/13
Over the years there have been a few memorable ones — proverbial players Blues fans despise when they’re on the opposition and absolutely adore once they put on the hometown sweater. The most unpopular or popular as it were include Geoff Courtnall Garth Butcher Harold Snepsts Esa Tikkanen Dallas Drake and Basil McRae. The player who hopes to become the next in that long line Maxim Lapierre arrived at the Blues’ practice facility this week. A free agent who signed a two-year $2.2 million contract this summer Lapierre realizes that public perception of the pesky center who played for Vancouver parts of the past three seasons probably won’t change overnight. But he believes that his reputation as a relentless hard worker will be witnessed in St. Louis and he’ll win over observers here. “There’s a lot of players in the league that I hate to play against and I would love to have on my team” Lapierre 28 said. “It takes time to have the fans on your side when you arrive on a new team but I’m convinced I’m going to do everything I can to make sure they love me.” Blues’ faithful won’t get their first glimpse until training camp commences Sept. 12 but several of the club’s regulars have already taken note of the 6-foot-2 207-pound Lapierre in pre-camp practices and off-ice workouts. “He’s a guy you can tell in just the couple of days I’ve been with him in St. Louis he’s on the bike he’s in the weight room he’s doing everything extra to be better” Blues defenseman Barret Jackman said. “He’s going to be a great complement to what we already have and push some guys to have that work ethic.” It wasn’t that long ago that few Blues had anything positive to say about Lapierre who prior to Vancouver played in Anaheim briefly and in Montreal for six seasons. In 11 career games against the Blues Lapierre had one goal and 14 penalty minutes. He was not a member of the Canucks when they swept the Blues in the first round of the 2009 playoffs but they have faced him seven times in the past two seasons. “He’s that guy who has that smile that you just want to squeeze his face ... ” Blues captain David Backes said. Lapierre built a reputation of always being involved after the whistle and despite Vancouver’s efforts to curtail his behavior when he arrived in 2011 it continued with a memorable incident in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals against Boston that year. After teammate Alex Burrows had bitten the finger of the Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron in Game 1 Lapierre found himself face-to-face with Bergeron during a scrum in the third period of Game 2. Lapierre mockingly stuck his fingers near Bergeron’s mouth and smiled as Bergeron swatted them away. Vancouver lost the series and growing wary of its image the Canucks reminded Lapierre to clean up his act going into the 2011-12 season. He netted nine goals and 19 points and ranked No. 11 in the NHL with 244 hits that year but for every big hit Lapierre was prone to taking the ill-advised penalty and finished No. 13 in the league with 130 PIMs.
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