A day with Lapierre
Joey, Jory & Rory’s Excellent Adventure began Saturday with a trip to Montreal for the first of four hometown player visits.
On Sunday Vancouver forward Maxim Lapierre gave Canucks.com and CanucksTV an all-access pass to his life, both past and present, and we made the most of it discovering a Maxim Lapierre few people know.
Here’s a timeline of our whirlwind visit. It’s a long read, but it’s well worth it - or your money back.
9:00 a.m. – Maxim Lapierre walks into the hotel lobby just as nine o’clock rolls around. He’s right on time. And dressed to impress. Olive green button up shirt. Black jeans. Grey Converse shoes. Aviators. Popped collar. Watch the size of a dinner plate. Hair spiked in the front and smooth in the back looking like he just got out of the barber’s chair. I should not be wearing my yellow Shy Ronnie t-shirt.
9:10 – We arrive at the Bell Centre, Rory and I having hitched a ride in Lapierre’s month-old jet-black Range Rover Signature Sport, Joey in our rental SUV having followed behind.
9:15 – Lapierre talks everything from being drafted by the Montreal Canadiens to Celine Dion. He’s a fan. Don’t laugh.
9:15 – The one about..playing in Montreal
9:32 – Back into Lapierre’s Batmobile. The radio station is on Adult Hit List. This can’t be good. One Direction: What Makes You Beautiful begins playing. Lapierre nods his head as if he’s enjoying the song – but that can’t be, can it? We must have hit a bump that only the front seat felt. Yep, we’ll go with that.
9:35 – “This place has excellent breakfast,” Lapierre says as we cross the street to Ben & Florentine (Dejeuner & Diner) in downtown Montreal. We are meeting his lifelong buddy Jean-Francois.
9:47 – Jean-Francois, who has known Lapierre since the two first played hockey together at age eight, arrives.
9:47:09 – Jean-Francoise (JF) and Lapierre start beaking each other in impossibly speedy French. It ends with a handshake. A manly bro handshake.
9:55 – JF dishes the dirt on Lapierre. “He was the smallest guy, I was the biggest guy back then, so I felt bad for him. That’s how we became friends.”
9:58 – I ask to see JF’s tongue. This is the first and only time I will ever ask another man to see his tongue. He politely declines, and by that I mean he raises an eyebrow at me and returns to the adult conversation he was having.
10:07 – The food arrives. Lapierre’s plate is impossible to see because of the mountain of food. Ham: check. Bacon: check. Omelet: check. Hash browns: check. Apple sauce: check. Beans: check. Toast: check. And a large glass of pineapple juice. My vegetarian omelet drops its tail between its legs in shame. That’s a man’s meal. I might as well have ordered off the kid’s menu (free Sponge Bob Square Pants toy?!?)
10:22 – Too….full…to…talk. The conversation slows until JF, a stockbroker, mentions he travels to Boston quite a bit. Here we go. That opens up the can of worms that is the Bruins. That leads to the Stanley Cup Final. That leads to this from Lapierre: “I still can’t believe we didn’t win the Stanley Cup. It’s ridiculous. It’ll hurt until we win it.” He hasn’t seen Game 7 and he never plans on watching it.
10:23 – We all sulk in silence.
10:35 – Handshakes all around as JF heads off to do JF things. Lapierre, Rory and I pile into the Batmobile, Joey into the Suburban and we’re off to Repentigny where Lapierre grew up.
10:45 – Facing a 45 minute drive, we open up the lines for fans to tweet questions to Lapierre through @VanCanucks. To summarize: Lapierre idolized Mario Lemieux, he misses Montreal poutine when he’s in Vancouver, he doesn’t have a favourite opponent to trash talk and he’d love to be an undercover cop or special agent if he weren’t a hockey player.
11:05 – Ryan Kesler tweets the following: @VanCanucks max where did you get your hair cut??? Remind me never to go there. #weedwhacker
11:56 – Touring Lapierre’s junior rink, Arena de Repentigny, brings back nothing but great memories for him. “Nothing has changed.” One thing has changed: there’s now a signed Lapierre photo from his days in Montreal on the wall of fame. He’s the 13th of 14 photos, second from the right, sandwiched in between Pascal Leclaire and Benjamin Breault.
11:57 – “Look at that handsome devil too,” Lapierre says turning our attention to his photo on an ad for Manioir Nissan. He looks 12-years-old in the photo.
12:15 p.m. – Lapierre believes one of the best parts of practice as a kid was the end and he shows us why. Batting cages. Go Karts. Mini-golf. Right behind the rink.
12:17 – “I don’t wear a helmet,” Lapierre laughs as he grabs a bat but shuns the head protection. Helmet hair? I don't think so.
12:19 – Under the impression it’s the slow 65 MPH speed of the balls holding him back from success, Lapierre takes a swing at a dozen 95 MPH heaters. He hits roughly 10 of them. I witnessed it. If the Expos ever come back, homegrown talent, thy name is Lapierre.
12:27 – We see a lady walking a huge German Shepherd dog that is barking wildly. Lapierre laughs and tells a tale: “My dad was a postman and one time a big dog like that was coming at him all crazy and he just grabbed it on the mouth with one hand and punched it in the head with the other. The dog lost that fight.”
12:31 – Lapierre switches gears – not in his vehicle (it’s an automatic) – in the seriousness of the conversation. He’s maturing at an alarming rate and his game is about to do the same. He’s finished with trash talking.
12:31 - The one about...the gift of gab
12:45 – Ecole des Moisson, where Lapierre went to school from Grades 1 through 6, is vacant of kids. It’s quiet and so is Lapierre as we tour the outside. Bad memories? “No, I was a good kid. It was very important for my parents that I was disciplined. I never went to the principal’s office once. Not once.”
12:49 – Bombshell time. “I was in the chess club. I was one of the best chess players in the province.” Pardon me? “I like to try new things and I thought it sounded like a fun game. So I joined the chess club and me and one other guy from the school went to this big tournament, I think it was provincials. I lost in the final in like 30 seconds. I thought I was Bobby Fisher at the time.”
12:52 – “There it is,” says Lapierre, pointing out the window as the vehicle slows to a crawl, “that’s the house I grew up in.” His smile is as wide as it has been all day. “Between the two fences is where I was shooting my pucks and my ball. The tree there, the pine tree, I put into the ground when I was young. It was actually from McDonald’s and it was that small. And now it’s that big. It’s special to me. This is a special place.”
12:55 – The Batmobile begins the trek back to Montreal. Twitter time. In short, Gladiator and Rudy are his favourite movies, his goal in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final is his most memorable, he’s better at golf than baseball, he’s a cookie addict, he showers six times a day, he goes to Disney World every summer with his family and he got engaged last December and will marry his fiancé Natasha next summer in Montreal.
1:09 - A question about what TV shows Lapierre likes has him open up about Dexter, his current obsession. “We are just waiting for Season 6 now. I watch it on DVD because I cannot watch one episode and wait for the next week, my fiancé Tash and I might watch five Dexter episodes in a night. There’s no specific reason why I love it, I just like the fact that he’s a quiet guy with a secret life. I don’t know, it’s just good.”
1:10 – “You know what show I don’t like?” Lapierre says, with a smirk. “The Kardashians one. I don’t have a choice once and a while, but that’s okay. I don’t have a favourite Kardashian. I really don’t like that show. I don’t even know what they’re doing. They’re just there on TV. What is so special? It’s okay, Tasha loves it.”
1:44 – Chez Lapierre is a gorgeous home. It’s newer than new and looks almost too swanky inside. There’s a reason. The house was part of a home makeover show a few years ago. See for yourself.
1:47 – “Guys, this is my fiancé Natasha,” says Lapierre, introducing us to his beautiful wife. She’s a hugger, which seems out of place for someone from Montreal. She’s from Vancouver, as we found out later on.
1:49 – The house tour leads to the garage, which Lapierre has transformed into a gym better stocked than your local YMCA. The main draw is the ginormous photo of a young Lapierre on the wall. “That’s from the first time I was ever on the ice,” Lapierre says with pride. “I can’t believe I have Bruins pants on. I can’t believe my dad bought me those. They must have been really cheap!”
1:55 – The one about...the couch
2:10 – Lapierre’s backyard is an oasis. From the trees to the flowers to the lawn to the jelly bean shaped pool, everything is extremely well maintained. Lapierre’s parents, who live next door, help with the yard when the couple is out of town, but on this day they wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world. Sun hot and water cool. Perfection.
2:15 – While Joey and Rory interview Lapierre about his Calder Cup win, I sneak away and join Natasha under a shaded canopy. The story of how they met and fell in love emerges.
2:22 – Wanna go for a swim?
2:25 – Swim shorts are handed to me and within 45 seconds I’m dressed and performing a monster cannon ball into the deep end. The judges score it a perfect 10. Take that bucket list!
2:59 – Chillin’. Life is good. Lapierre quizzes us on what’s going on in the Canucks world to ensure he is up-to-date. He is. More Canucks talk ensues. He begins training this week, but will pace himself and not work with much heavy weights. He doesn’t know Jason Garrison, but he’s excited about his arrival. He says the run to the Stanley Cup Final was so exhausting that it cost the Canucks their opening round series against the LA Kings, but he’s not one for excuses. He’s currently weighing in at 221 pounds and is aiming to hit the ice at 215 for the upcoming season, but…no but actually, it’ll be the heaviest Lapierre has ever played and he’s excited to throw around the extra weight.
3:14 - Grilled cheese and nacho chips? Are you serious Natasha? The day goes from awesome to super wicked awesome thanks to the culinary work of soon-to-be Madame Lapierre.
3:30 – Turning point. We either leave now or I’m never leaving.
3:31 – We leave, but not before I spot the greatest bathroom photo I’ve ever seen. It’s not of Lapierre or Natasha, it’s Jessica Alba. “That’s how you know you’ve made it,” laughs Lapierre when asked about the photo across from the throne. “When you can go to the washroom looking at Jessica Alba.”
3:35 – Joey, Jory and Rory’s Excellent Adventure hits the highway en route back to Montreal, back to the hotel, back to the Jessica Alba-less bathrooms and soon off to Boston. Next up: Cory Schneider.