When the Vancouver Canucks centre was reminded that a prolonged NHL lockout could wipe out the final year of his contract and that a new collective bargaining agreement could push the length of service to become an unrestricted free agent from seven to 10 years, the 27-year-old agitator responded with a grin and shrug of the shoulders.
Maybe it's those extra 15 pounds of muscle. Maybe it's the extra confidence from being a versatile forward who saw first-line duty last spring and has finally found a home after playing for three teams in 2010-11.
So whether the CBA pressure point for owners is to start filming the popular HBO series 24/7 in late November to build momentum for the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 — or retain a strong stance to gain a greater share of revenue — it doesn't faze Lapierre.
Even if the next two weeks are crucial to gain negotiation traction. Even if his UFA eligibility could be pushed back from age 27 or seven years of service in the expired CBA.
"To be honest, I don't really think about it," Lapierre said following a rent-a-skate session with his peers at UBC.
"If you start thinking about that stuff every day, it's going to make your life miserable. In my head, it [season] is going to start at some point and I want to be in top shape, but there's not much I can do personally about the lockout.
"I think we were expecting this but it doesn't matter. I'm in a great spot with a great team and in a great city. I can't complain."
The biggest complaint last season was that it took until the rain curtailed and the sun finally shone for Lapierre to earn his $1-million-US salary.
While he struggled through the monotony of the regular season and finished 13th in the league with 130 penalty minutes, Lapierre took just five minors in the final 18 games and had three goals and five points during a five-game stretch on the top line in place of the concussed Daniel Sedin.
While durable in missing just 13 games the last four seasons, Lapierre is convinced his game can go to another level by taking the opposite approach of most players.
While many have become leaner to increase foot speed, he added to his 6-foot-2 frame and now weighs 220 pounds. He expects to improve on nine goals and 19 points last season.
Lapierre's Montreal-based trainer, Scott Livingston, even worked in concert with a Cirque du Soleil nutritionist to add muscle where it was needed most by the centre.
"Sometimes we focus a lot on the speed of the game but we forget that most of the game happens in the corners, so it's obviously good for the one-on-one battles," said Lapierre.
"The plan was to add five pounds at a time and I felt faster; I think 15 of those pounds are in the legs because I feel fast and I feel strong. I didn't lose any speed or explosion.
"You look at those [Cirque du Soleil] athletes. They're pretty ripped, so those might be the right people to have the same nutritionist."
While Lapierre was linked to a report that Quebec-raised players may form a charity game tour through QMJHL rinks during the lockout, the Saint Leonard, Que., native will stay in Vancouver to train and prepare for what could be an eventful return to the game.
With centre Ryan Kesler sidelined until at least December by offseason shoulder and wrist surgeries and a third-line vacancy with centre Samme Pahlsson returning to Sweden, there are riddles in the middle that Lapierre may help solve.
Jordan Schroeder is going to get a serious shot at filling the third-line hole and if the Canucks don't dip into free agency when a new CBA is struck — they have had preliminary talks with veteran centre Jason Arnott — then Lapierre is going to do more than just anchor the fourth line.
"I'm expecting my best season," Lapierre stressed.
"I'm not the type of guy who looks for excuses, but when you go on a long [playoff] ride like we did [in 2011], it's tough physically and a different mentality to approach games," admitted Lapierre.
"You've got a tired mind and a tired body. We knew we could have played better, but I guarantee we'll play better this year."
That's quite the statement from a player whose career looked lost until he arrived here as a trade-deadline acquisition on Feb. 28, 2011.
"Getting traded twice in one year is not good for your mental health and when I came here I was pretty disappointed," recalled Lapierre.
"Last year was a good season and I'm out of that hole."
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It's awesome how much dedication he has put into his craft. I hope he gets re-signed. I also predict an awesome year for him and the Canucks, whenever it may start.
Edited by Live.&.Die.Nucks, 19 September 2012 - 11:05 AM.