It’s been just three days since Capitals’ forward prospect Hendrix Lapierre got the news that he was being sent back to his Junior club, the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. And while Lapierre was disappointed he didn’t stay with the Capitals for the entire season, his attitude and perspective after receiving the news couldn’t be better.
“Of course, in an ideal world, I would have stayed in Washington. However, I had a great opportunity to play games. It was up to me to grab it. I don’t think I did wrong, but maybe I didn’t do enough to stay on all year. However, I know that I made a huge leap in progress,” said Lapierre in an interview with TVA Sports the day after his assignment to Acadie-Bathurst.
Before his departure from Northern Virginia, Lapierre met with the Capitals coaches and management. The native of Gatineau said they had very positive words for him prior to his return to Canada.
“Their messages were very positive. They obviously gave me a few points that they would like me to work on. I do feel, however, that they have confidence in me and that’s all I can ask for.”
Lapierre knows there is still plenty of work to do before he makes his return to Washington.
“I’m aware that I still have a lot to learn. I haven’t played a lot of games in the last few years. We have a good team in Bathurst and I think my year will be really good. What I want this year is to have fun playing hockey.”
Lapierre realized every hockey player’s dream come true, to score a goal in the NHL. He did it in his very first game.
“At the time, I was on my back and I didn’t realize right away that the puck was in the net. It was when I was lifted up that I realized the magnitude of what had just happened. Things go fast in the NHL and we were in the middle of a game. So I didn’t really have time to think about it,” said Lapierre.
“In the days that followed, I received a lot of messages and it really did a little something to me,” said Lapierre, whose family and girlfriend were present at Capital One Arena to witness his goal.
Being with the Capitals was full of positive experiences for the 19-year-old. Lapierre also had the chance to meet one of his idols, Alex Ovechkin.
“I’m convinced he’s not a human being,” he said with a laugh. At 36, he continues to be an exceptional player. There’s a reason he’s one of the best snipers in NHL history. To have been able to meet him on a daily basis and to see his joie de vivre [exuberant enjoyment of life], it’s really special.”
Lapierre said that he is not disappointed to return to junior hockey. Acquired by the Titan in a transaction made last June, he believes his club can succeed this season.
“I know it’s a cliché, but I really want to get better every day. I want to play on the power play, at a disadvantage, take some big faceoffs and try to help the team win.”
Lapierre also aims to make the Canadian roster for the World Junior Championship.He was cut from the team in the final days leading up to last year’s Championship.
“It’s one of my goals this year,” said Lapierre. I can’t wait to prove myself at camp. I want to try to make the team and show what I can do against the best players of my age.”
By Jon Sorensen