Like anybody who lives and breathes hockey during the regular season, I have a love-hate relationship with the summer. I love sitting on a patio somewhere in the warmth of the July sun, with good beer, music, and friends. But there is a certain time in mid-to-late-August where I start to get a feeling in my gut that hockey will be just around the corner. Having a long, warm summer has helped to stave off the feeling this year, but I have to admit that in reading all of the reports for rookie and training camps across the league – I’m fully ready for the season to begin. September kills me. As soon as the night air gets a certain chill, my brain automatically craves hockey. For now we’ll have to be content with reading about this player or that who impressed a writer in the stands at practice. We hear about this player or that who spent the summer training in this new way, or relaxing somehow else. Its mainly all talk. Everyone goes into a new season trying to get off to a new and better start, but there are a few guys each year who shut their mouths and get down to it.
One guy I’m looking really closely this season is Maxime Lapierre. Laps has talked the talk in past seasons, finding a way to play himself onto, and almost off of the every-day roster. He was hampered by an ankle injury last season that literally crippled his game which is based on his ability to skate tirelessly. This is just a personal hunch – but I’m of the opinion that Max actually gets it this year. He saw first hand how close he was to losing his spot last year and parlayed that renewed energy (once his ankle healed) into a damn good playoff run. People talk about the need for Carey Price to step up this season – but a healthy, functional, and mature Maxime Lapierre could do wonders for a team that needs its players with size to step up. I’m not saying he needs to score, but youth can no longer be a crutch for him. When he’s on his game he is an infusion of work ethic and energy - which the Habs will need to be successful this year. If Max can find a way to contribute every night, he’ll give Jacques Martin the ability to roll his lines better than last year.