Maveric Lamoureux: the player behind the giant

Maveric Lamoureux will be the guest of the Antichambre on RDS and RDS Direct, Tuesday evening around 8:45 p.m., after the game Cataractes v. Oil Kings.

MONTREAL – Maveric Lamoureux sets the interview at 3 p.m. Among his obligations beforehand: an appointment with the chiropractor. Which of all the injuries that have bothered the great defender this season still bothers him?

None, he will reassure us later. Weeks away from the biggest day of his young career, Lamoureux swears he’s in great shape. But he does not hide that the last year has been physically demanding.

A kick to the shoulder in training camp hasn’t let him down all year. He forced him to play with a brace until the playoffs and caused him to miss most of February. When he returned to action, in a game against Rouyn-Noranda, a cross-check in the back left him with two fractured ribs. He played despite the pain for two weeks before receiving the correct diagnosis. “I had trouble breathing, but I thought it was muscular,” he says simply today.

We are not even talking about the knee strike that made him fear the worst against Rimouski. “We expect a long absence,” declared the general manager of the Voltigeurs de Drummondville, Philippe Boucher, to the newspaper L’Express. Lamoureux was however in position from the following match.

“No one was aware of all these details,” he says on the phone. I kept it private, I couldn’t say anything. Only the people inside knew it. Sometimes, there are those who wonder: “Crime, how bad is it today?”. Sometimes it’s because of an injury, but you can’t tell. »

Now that it is wilted and composted, this bouquet of sores adds even more luster to a season of which Lamoureux can be proud. Twelfth pick in the 2020 QMJHL Draft, the former Élites de Jonquière confirmed his position as one of the best defensemen in his age group. NHL Central Scouting sees him as the seventh best prospect in his position among those who come from a North American circuit. This position fueled the debates in Quebec, where Tristan Luneau of the Gatineau Olympiques had long been considered in a class apart.

Lists and the conversations they’ve sparked are another hurdle Lamoureux has had to overcome over the past year. They have sometimes inflated his ego, sometimes undermined his confidence. Whether they were flattering or harsher on him, he admits in hindsight that he gave them far too much importance. Before he realized what trap he had gotten himself into, the quality of his game suffered.

“The danger for any player who is in his draft year, even a defender, is to say to himself that he must make points to be chosen as high as possible, recalls Mathieu Turcotte, the coach who was responsible for the defenders. last season with the Voltigeurs. It’s still a lot of pressure and at times, it could play on his decision-making. I told him a couple of times to stop games that aren’t there, that he wasn’t Tristan Luneau. It was in joke, but he understood the message. »

Lamoureux remembers the exact date he got tired of playing behind a mask. In mid-December, after a loss in Charlottetown, he took the villain out in a heart-to-heart with his agent.

“I got to the point where I realized I wasn’t playing my hockey. I was no longer myself, the big guy with a big smile who has fun, who is in the face of others, who plays physical and who has fun. When I played, I was stressed, I thought way too much. “If I make that pass, am I going to make a mistake? If I do that, is it good or not?”. It hurt me, it took a lot of my energy. I was at butt. »

Two precious accomplices

Once the mental side was settled, the easiest was still to be done. Because the talent is there and the work necessary to develop it, Maveric Lamoureux never escaped.

“There are a lot of people who will say that I am where I am or that I have such good luck in the draft just because I am tall, he heard. But this is by no means the case. If I was sloppy, if I wasn’t working, if I didn’t want to improve every day, there’s no way I would be here today. »

“Some people say they want to make hockey players. Maveric, he speaks with his actions, ”testifies Turcotte.

Two and a half years ago, Lamoureux began working with Paul Boutilier, a former NHL defenseman who has been around for thirty years as a coach and who has specialized over time in teaching his old position. When he joined the Voltigeurs, he found in Turcotte the perfect accomplice to supervise him in what the latter called the “Thomas Chabot program” in honor of Boutilier’s most famous client.

Two mornings a week, the student met the master on a stationary bike for a 15-minute high-intensity training session. The duo was also doing extra time on the rink with some good oldies. pucks oranges”, heavier pucks used to improve throwing. Lamoureux made four series of 25 shots that had to be released in less than 35 seconds.

“We see fewer and fewer guys like that, but it’s like, let’s say I tell him that there are four rehearsals left, he’ll ask me to do a fifth,” reveals Turcotte. If I say there are ten seconds left before the next round, it will go away on its own after five seconds. He’s always going to find ways to do more and there’s never been a time where I had to push him. »

Boutilier’s influence on Lamoureux is not just measured in watts or miles per hour. From the many hours spent dissecting video with her mentor, the young sponge has accumulated a bundle of notes on the intricacies of her position. “The position of my stick, how to take the right angle on the guys, cut the game more quickly in the zone…”, he lists with admiration. Even today, even if the habit is well anchored in his brain, Lamoureux writes the numbers from 1 to 5 at the end of his stick in memory of the advice he received to constantly count and situate his opponents in the course of the game.

“He helped me with so many aspects of hockey that I didn’t understand until I spoke with him,” he summed up gratefully.

And Turcotte, who will follow the sequel from a distance since he was hired as coach of the U18 AAA program at the Séminaire St-Francois, is among those who believe that the benefits have not finished rubbing off on the game of his former protege.

“He’s able to see games that others don’t see. He shouldn’t always try them! But he sees them, those games, whereas most guys his age don’t. It’s a disadvantage when you can’t analyze when to do them. But when it’s going to come back in line with the rest, he’s going to do things that people are going to wonder how he could have done that. »

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