Penguins get physical, trade Goc for Blues' Lapierre
Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford wants a tougher team.
He traded forward Marcel Goc to St. Louis late Tuesday for forward Maxim Lapierre.
One of the league's bigger agitators, Lapierre has a reputation as a physical player who annoys opponents.
He also has a reputation as a good playoff player.
“That factored in,” Rutherford said. “He's had a couple of good runs in the playoffs.”
Lapierre played for the Vancouver team that reached Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final before losing to Boston.
Lapierre, 29, is a Saint-Leonard, Quebec, native who started his career with the Montreal Canadiens. He infamously butt-ended Penguins captain Sidney Crosby during the opening faceoff of a game in 2007, triggering hostility between the teams for years.
Rutherford doesn't mind that Lapierre plays on the edge.
He rather likes it, in fact, and said the physicality in recent games prompted him to make the move. Goc was one of the Penguins' least physical players.
“It certainly seems that we're getting into more physical games than I would have expected,” Rutherford said. “So, yeah, he will help the (Steve) Downies, (Zach) Sills and (Robert) Bortuzzos.”
Rutherford said he has been in contact with the Blues regarding Lapierre for “a couple of weeks.”
Lapierre has two goals and nine points in 45 games this season. He has played for Montreal, Anaheim, Vancouver and St. Louis.
He has seven goals in 75 career postseason games.
Lapierre has been suspended twice in his career, totaling nine games. He was guilty of a boarding infraction two years ago that sent then-San Jose defenseman Dan Boyle to the hospital. Lapierre received a five-game suspension for that hit.
“He's a big guy,” Rutherford said. “He plays with energy, with an edge at times. He's averaged roughly nine or 10 goals a year. He's capable of scoring a little bit. I think this is a good addition for us.”
Lapierre, who is listed at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, figures to see time on the third and fourth lines.
“If we could get some more offense from our fourth line, that would be good,” Rutherford said.
Rutherford said trading Goc wasn't easy.
Goc, a popular figure in the locker room, never established himself on the ice with the Penguins. Fresh off an 11-goal season with Florida when the Penguins acquired him, Goc scored only twice in 64 games. Although he was a solid penalty killer and faceoff man, Goc's lack of scoring and physicality became a problem.
“It's never easy when you lose a player, especially someone like him,” Rutherford said. “He's such a good guy and a good team guy.”
Lapierre is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. His experience and nasty streak won over Rutherford.
“That really was a factor,” he said. “He's hard to play against.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.