Remembering the Red Wings’ gritty Martin Lapointe

Martin LaPointe was a member of two Stanley Cup champions with Detroit in 1997 and 1998.

It was said that Martin Lapointe played with a chip on his shoulder. Actually, it was a tattoo of a pit bull – with a hockey stick clenched between its teeth.

“I got it when I was in the juniors,” Lapointe once explained, “and it kind of epitomizes the style I like to play.”

The Quebec-born right winger, the 10th overall pick in the 1991 draft, was a durable and remarkably consistent player during his Red Wings days. The 5-foot-11, 215-pounder typically was good for 15-16 goals and 125-150 penalty minutes each season, and more than a few crunching hits in the corners each game. His grinding, banging style of play made him a favorite of fans and, more importantly, coach Scotty Bowman, who rewarded him with more and more ice time. Lapointe responded with nine goals in the ’98 playoffs, as the Wings won their second consecutive Stanley Cup.

Off the ice, Lapointe drove a Harley Davidson Fat Boy, sailed a 21-foot boat on Quebec’s Lac de l’Achigan, devoured Die Hard movies, and confessed that, if not for hockey, he would have liked “to be in the FBI or on a SWAT team somewhere.”

After a decade with the Detroit organization, Lapointe had a breakout year in 2000-01, banging home 27 goals as he approached free agency. That summer the gritty 27-year-old signed the richest contract ever offered a Boston Bruin: $20 million over four years. Hub fans were merciless in their disapproval as Lapointe never scored more than 17 goals or 40 points in a single season in Boston, making him, in their eyes, “the most overpaid player in the league.”

Lapointe signed as a free agent with Chicago in 2005, then was traded to Ottawa for a draft pick in February 2008. That was his last NHL campaign. Today he lives with his wife and four children in Hinsdale, Illinois, and works as a scout for the Blackhawks.

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