Hendrix Lapierre has the talent of being a first choice in the next National Hockey League draft, but he hasn’t shown it in a long time.
Lapierre’s season was derailed due to an injury, so when the NHL teams call the Saguenéens center in Chicoutimi, the first question is always about his health.
“They’re worried,” said Lapierre in a Skype interview from his family home in Gatineau, Quebec. “Obviously, when you write, you don’t want to waste a choice, so I understand. But I tell them, “I feel so good and I’ll be back stronger than ever next year. “”
Concussion problems have swirled around 18 years of age. He missed a month with a concussion in February of last season. He then appeared to support another on October 23 this season. He returned in November, playing another six games before being diagnosed with a concussion. He hasn’t played since November 21.
The symptoms persisted until mid-February, when Lapierre realized that his headaches only happened for a brief period each morning. Her agent and family sought more information.
Lapierre went for an MRI and an X-ray and looked for three different specialists. The diagnosis was consistent in all three cases: Lapierre actually suffered from an injury to the spine. Some of his vertebrae were “twisted and stuck,” said Lapierre. He worked with a physiotherapist and a chiropractor, and the headaches quickly disappeared.
Given the difficulty of moving the vertebrae, specialists believe, says Lapierre, that the injury was suffered in February 2019 at the same time that he was injured for the first time.
Although the experts may not be 100% sure, it is possible that Lapierre only suffered a concussion and that the other problems of the season were the direct result of the re-aggravation of the problem of the vertebrae.
“The diagnosis of three concussions in 10 months was worrying for me, my family and my future in hockey,” admits Lapierre. “The new diagnosis is a great relief and I am confident for next season that I will be able to succeed. I have strengthened my neck a lot. “
Lapierre worked hard to get back in shape and was about to return when the season was postponed due to the March 12 coronavirus outbreak. He has since been medically licensed to play.
“The plan was for me to play the last two or three games of the season and prepare for the playoffs. “
The Canadian Hockey League season was finally canceled, which means that Lapierre did not have a chance to save his draft campaign. He finished with two goals and 17 points in 19 games. Even before the injuries, he was not thrilled with his performance.
“I didn’t have the start of the season I expected,” he said. “Maybe I was putting too much pressure on myself.” I don’t know why, to be honest. It’s really hard to say. “
Despite some difficult moments, Lapierre’s potential is impossible to ignore. After being the first choice in the 2018 draft of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, he scored 45 points in 48 games last season, winning the Michel Bergeron Trophy as the league’s offensive rookie of the year. Last summer, he dominated the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, producing 11 points in five games and helping Team Canada win the silver medal.
TSN screening director Craig Button has always ranked Lapierre ranked # 10 on his latest list. And Lapierre was still one of the three nominees for the Mike Bossy trophy, awarded to the best professional hope in the Quebec league.
“Lapierre is the joker of this project,” said Button. “I should probably have him higher based on his potential because I think he’s one of the top five players if he can get back to full health. He is the best two-way player in the repechage. “
When does Lapierre expect to be chosen?
“It is a difficult question,” he said. “The 2020 draft is pretty good, special … I hope to participate in the first round, perhaps, but after my performance, I don’t know. At the moment, I’m not focusing on the repechage, it is to come back stronger and faster and to make sure everything is going well for the next year and the repechage will be a great reward. I feel like I could go anywhere. I cannot say a number. “
Cole Perfetti also played for Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, and forward Saginaw Spirit turned that into a fantastic Ontario Hockey League season. Button a Perfetti ranked n ° 4. Does Lapierre feel, with his talent, that this is the repechage section to which he belongs?
“I have always been a player who trusts his abilities, so I tend to say” yes “. I played well at Hlinka and it was a great performance for me, and it gave me a lot of confidence. Obviously, this was not the draft year I expected with the Saguenéens, but I feel that when I play at full potential and when I play my best, I can be with these guys . “
The NHL Central Tracing Office released its final rankings on Wednesday with Perfetti in 5th row and Lapierre in 13th among North American skaters.
Lapierre is quick to note that he has made improvements despite little play. Specifically, he aims to become a more dangerous goalscorer after potting just a pair this season.
“For the past four or five months, I have been on the ice almost every day,” he said. “Not since the start of the epidemic, but before that, I was on the ice and working on my shooting or working on tight skills with our coach. At the moment, I’m shooting pucks outside and I feel like my shot has won a lot. better. I just have a good idea. We changed my technique a bit. I can’t wait to try it. Honestly, I miss the game so much. “
Lapierre considers Washington Evgeny Kuznetsov be the closest NHLer to his style of play. He’s also trying to emulate Florida’s two-way game Aleksander Barkov.
“I watched it maybe 10 or 15 times this year, it was so good. It’s amazing, “said Lapierre. “He’s tall with a long reach, so I feel like I can bring some Kuznetsov with a Barkov mix which could be a great recipe. “
It’s a recipe that could lead to great success in the NHL, no matter which team tries a shot at the center of 6 feet and 181 pounds.
Lapierre’s Instagram account has the phrase “Turn your reverses into returns”, and that’s his rallying cry.
“I’m not used to posting motivational statements on Instagram, but I was there one night and I was thinking about the season and I saw a motivational website, I saw a few sentences and I had the impression that it was representative of my situation. Usually, I just put pictures, but I wanted to put them just for me and so everyone knows I will come back. ” The