The Canucks latest prospect to join the ranks is free-agent signee Pierre-Cedric Labrie, an ’86-born left winger with good size at 6’2, 212 lbs. Somewhat of an unknown, Labrie not only went undrafted but has actually only played one season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Labrie spent the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons with the Coaticook Frontaliers (QJAHL) before moving to the Restigouche Jr. A Tigers (MJAHL) for 2005-06. At the end of that season, which he scored 43 goals and 43 assists in 54 games, he got a chance to play in the post-season for the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. He performed very well, notching four points in four games which ultimately landed him an opportunity to prove himself the following season in training camp. He earned a spot on the team and ended up being a major contributor to the team with 35 goals and 28 assists plus 113 penalty minutes in 68 regular season games played. He added 14 more points in 11 playoff contests.
At the Canucks Rookie Camp, the first real exposure many western observers have had of Labrie, he has presented himself as a big body who has solid offensive instincts and always goes straight for the front of the net. He has decent hands and the ability to lift the puck quickly, but he also loses it sometimes when he tries to make a quick move in close. He plays a physical game and likes to create contact in the offensive zone to put pressure on opposing defensemen. He does, however, have some significant deficiencies in his game. Labrie is has very poor speed and doesn’t play well in his own zone right now, an aspect of his game that is going to need to improve immensely if he’s going to become an effective pro.
After a hard day of practice at camp and despite the fact that his English still needs some work, Labrie was willing to talk.
HF: This past year was your first season in major junior, why weren’t you playing in the QMJHL before?
PL: I was playing Junior A in the Maritime(s). And before that I play Junior AAA in Quebec.
HF: Do you think that QMJHL teams just weren’t seeing what you were able to do?
PL: I just go to the camp with Quebec, the Remparts, and they cut me two times at the camp. And then at 19 years old after the season with Drakkar of Baie-Comeau and I got nice playoffs and the season after they got me again and I had a good season.
HF: Was it frustrating to be cut by the Remparts? Why do you think you were unable to make the team?
PL: I don’t know, maybe. They have a big team and maybe in the other league I carry some skills and some other things. I hit more and I’m more complete.
HF: Did you enjoy playing with Baie-Comeau last year?
PL: Yeah, for my house, my home team. I enjoy the season but now it’s another season.
HF: Tell me about the process surrounding the Canucks signing you?
PL: When it happened, I was just surprised. My agent is doing a good job. And when I’m signed I just have the dream and now I just want to complete the rest of the dream.
HF: Did the Canucks talk to you at all during the season?
HF: So it was very surprising to you?
PL: Yeah yeah yeah.
HF: Where do you expect to be playing hockey this year before signing the contract with the Canucks?
PL: Some universities called me before. And I was told I could play university. But when the Canucks called me I was so happy to come to camp.
HF: Which schools?
HF: Had you gone, what would have you studied?
PL: Just maybe teacher of physical education.
HF: What did you and the guys do last night after practice?
PL: Maybe we go to the pool and the spa, just taking it easy because we’re training hard now and I like to take it easy.
HF: Have you had the chance to play some golf yet? (the prospects are staying at Bear Mountain Golf Resort, one of the better known courses in the province)
PL: Not now, but maybe today. It’s a thing that a couple guys talked about.
HF: Have you made any good friends during this experience?
PL: Yeah, Pat Coulombe, (Julien) Ellis, (Luc) Bourdon. I like Shaun (Heshka), the defenseman. Messier…
HF: Are you happy with your performance in camp so far?
PL: Yeah, just I think day after day I’m getting better. So, not bad, but can be better.
HF: Do you think that you need to play more physical?
PL: Yeah, a little bit. Yeah, I can hit more, I have to.
HF: What are your strengths?
PL: In the corner and I rush the net.
HF: What do you like to do when you’re not playing hockey?
PL: I play some golf. After that I play soccer. I take it easy, go to the beach.
HF: So where do you expect to play this season? Will you end up back here in Victoria (ECHL?)
PL: Maybe. I want to stay here for more time. After that, go to the training camp for the (Manitoba) Moose and after that I don’t know.
Copyright 2007 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.