Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lightning's Labrie an early camp standout

TAMPA — You would never know it watching the first few days of Lightning training camp, but Pierre-Cedric Labrie said he used to "skate like a moose."

But the big left wing also assured, "We took care of that."

Indeed, watching Labrie on the ice at the Tampa Bay Times Forum has been like watching a controlled whirlwind. His jersey flapping in the breeze during line rushes, the 6-foot-3, 236-pounder — whom coach Jon Cooper called "just a bear out there" — beat opponents to pucks along the boards and snapped off wrist shots that consistently went top shelf. By a very rough estimate, he is the team's top goal scorer.

It is just practice, but it is difficult to identify a player putting more effort into his roster fight.

"That's what I do," Labrie, 26, said Friday. "It's practice, game energy, forecheck, backcheck, always go as hard as I can. Every shift I give 100 percent. That's the way I am."

By now, Labrie's story is well known, though it is worth repeating to understand his passion.

Out of hockey at age 17 after he was cut from the junior Quebec league, Labrie worked the night shift at a convenience store, sleeping on boxes until awoken by customers ringing a bell. He worked at a restaurant as a chef's assistant, pulling chicken off bones, flipping burgers, preparing potatoes and salads.

Labrie restarted his hockey career from scratch, going from a weekend rec league to junior A, juniors, the AHL and finally the NHL, including 19 games last season with the Lightning in which he had two goals, three points and 30 penalty minutes while averaging 8:33 of ice time.

"I'm blessed," Labrie said. "I know what it is working 40 hours a week and trying to go to school. I know how hard it is, and I totally respect that. I want to spend as much time as I can here to make sure I don't go back to that routine too fast."

Labrie is physical and can fight, two elements Tampa Bay sorely needs. But his skill set and consistency are works in progress, though he is much sharper, much like his skating after two summers working with instructor Barb Underhill.

Still, in a highly competitive camp in which Tampa Bay can choose from a deep reserve of prospects, Labrie is not guaranteed a job, though with a personality as big as his mop of curly red hair, he is easy to root for.

"Just a special person, a free-spirited guy," said defenseman Mark Barberio, who last season roomed with Labrie at AHL Syracuse.

Said center Tyler Johnson, another Syracuse teammate, "Even when he goes out and meets strangers, he's their best friend right away. He just has that charisma about him."

He also loves to give hugs, and when he does, "you're not getting out of it, that's for sure," Barberio said. "If you haven't seen him in a while, that will prompt a hug. Just seeing him in the morning, that will get you a hug."

As for how Labrie has performed at camp, "Really well," Cooper said. "He's been shooting it hard and hitting the net." Actually, Cooper joked, "I'm trying not to look. I don't want him to walk in and say, 'Did you see that? I want to be on the power play.' "

Not to worry, Labrie said, "I just want to be in every game helping my team."

NEW VIEW: Practices Monday and Tuesday at the Times Forum are now open to the public. Enter Gate B at 11:30 a.m. Scrimmages both days also will be streamed live at

. fast facts

Lightning Fan Fest

When/where: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. today, Tampa Bay Times Forum

What: Split-squad practices 8:10 a.m.-1:45 p.m. open to the public; autographs, 11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 2:15-3 p.m.

Parking: For season ticket holders only, limited and free.

Tickets: Single-game tickets on sale 8 a.m.-noon only at Times Forum box office. At noon, tickets also are available via Ticketmaster (outlets,, toll-free 1-800-745-3000).

Lightning's Labrie an early camp standout 09/13/13 [Last modified: Friday, September 13, 2013 9:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Buccaneers-Bills Turning Point, Week 7: How does a receiver get that wide open?


    A lot can go wrong in the time it takes you to walk from your couch to the refrigerator.

    [NFL Game Pass]
  2. Lightning needs to hold onto Sergachev


    Here’s hoping the Lightning holds onto Mikhail Sergachev.

    Mikhail Sergachev has scored his first three NHL goals in his last two NHL games.
  3. Rick and Tom podcast: Defensively, Bucs have regressed to early 2016 stages


    The Bucs lose another game they should have won because in less than a minute they went from everything is back on track to blowing it. In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down the …

    Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) is pressured by Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Abominable Bucs Missing Their Chance


    Of course, they can still win the division.

    They can still make the playoffs.

    Another Sunday, another celebration for the other guys
  5. Justin Timberlake in Super Bowl halftime show for first time since 'wardrobe malfunction'


    Justin Timberlake has finally been invited back to the Super Bowl halftime show, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson caused a national controversy.

    Singer Janet Jackson covers her breast as Justin Timberlake holds part of her costume after her outfit came undone during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston in 2004. The NFL announced Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, that Timberlake will headline the Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 4 in Minnesota, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson cause a national controversy. [Associated Press]