Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Maxim Lapierre set to return for St. Louis Blues, and it’s put up or shut up time

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Maxim Lapierre has done his time for his viscous and irresponsible hit to the back of Dan Boyle. He’s served all five games of his suspension and is set to return to the lineup for the St. Louis Blues as their fourth-line center. On top of the time, Lapierre also paid a lot of lip service following his hit on Boyle.

Lapierre spoke to the St. Louis Dispatch prior to the suspension time being announced, and said all of the right things:

First of all, I would like to apologize to Dan. You never want to see someone feel that way and, as tough as it is to look at for the fans and his teammates, I feel the same way. I never [thought] last night it was going to be a hit to the head or it would be that big a deal … I was just trying to finish my hit. But the game goes fast. It’s not an excuse. You have to be responsible for your hits and I was the one doing the bad hit last night.

OK, so maybe he didn’t say all of the right things.

Apologizing and then tossing out the “I was just trying to finish my hit” line is at the core of Lapierre’s problem. He thinks he was just doing his job, and that the hit on Boyle was just a bad day at the office. That’s an issue. That’s asinine.

Truth be told though, he has a very tight line to walk for the foreseeable future. He’s one “finished hit” away from ending up as an unpaid hockey player for more than five contests. It wouldn’t be shocking to see the league go with the indefinite tag for a bit, the same way they did with John Scott.

Whether Lapierre understands it or not, his reputation already matches that of a goon like Scott. In fact, it might actually be worse. This is a guy that runs opponents from behind, hides behind the linesman and then runs his mouth about how tough he is. He is the obnoxious “come at me bro” persona embodied on an NHL sheet of ice.

Regardless of how he approached his apology, Lapierre has an opportunity here. He can walk the straight and narrow, carve out a niche besides fourth-line goon-runner and keep his spot in the best league in the world.

The comparison to Matt Cooke is tried but accurate.

It’s time for Lapierre to quit apologizing and quit phoning opponents that he’s felled with illegal and dirty plays after the fact. If he wants to show respect, then he can do it out on the ice. Otherwise he might not have a job for too much longer.

Tags: Maxim Lapierre NHL St. Louis Blues