Lucky Lapierre ready for role play

HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:14 PM ET

Maxim Lapierre has just one game under his belt as a member of the blue and green, but the newly-acquired centre already has a good feel for his Vancouver Canucks teammates.

"It's like a bunch of gentlemen," said the Saint Leonard, Que. native. "It's a mature group and they know where they're going. They're winning so the atmosphere in the room is different and I'm really happy to be a part of it."

Coming to the NHL's best club at the trade deadline from Anaheim along with MacGregor Sharp for Joel Perrault and a third rounder, Lapierre provides depth to an already potent offence. And while the six-foot-two, 207-lb centre won't be called on to provide scoring, he strengthens a fourth line in need of a solution down the middle.

"This is the type of hockey I like to play and I consider myself lucky to be here right now in this dressing room," he said. "I'm going to do everything I can to be a positive thing for this team."

Lapierre's debut Tuesday, however, didn't get off to quite a positive start. He took a holding penalty on just his second shift, finishing a minus-one with no shots or hits in 5:41 of ice time.

Captain Henrik Sedin notes it's still early to judge his new teammate, who played only one shift in the third period.

"When he gets familiar with our team and our system and everything, he's going to be more relaxed and I'm sure he can show what he can do."

While Lapierre could use a couple more games to get comfortable, he won't have to familiarize himself as much with Alain Vigneault. The Canucks coach manned the bench for Lapierre's junior team, the Prince Edward Island Rocket of the QMJHL, from 2003-2005. Having that past relationship makes the transition to a new team a bit easier, the 25-year-old said.

"The fact that he knows me helps a lot so he knows what I can bring and he knows my personality," he said. "He was the first guy to teach me how to play in the hockey system and so I'm in the NHL right now, he's a big part of it."

Having talked with Vigneault about his role on the Canucks, the former Montreal Canadien said he needs to keep his game simple, be physical, and bring energy to the team. He feels his playoff experience last season, when the Habs reached the third round before being knocked out by Philadelphia, is a bonus.

"I learned a lot last year and I'm happy I can bring that here right now," he said. "We'll be all set for the playoffs."

The other new guy

Chris Higgins spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since arriving in Vancouver.

The 27-year-old winger, acquired in a trade from Florida, said he'll need to find his role as quickly as possible once he returns from a broken thumb.

"I'll probably start off pretty low on the totem pole because how can you argue with a team that's first in the league?" the former first rounder asked. "I have to earn my minutes, I have no problem doing that."

Higgins expects to start practising with the team in about a week.


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