For many in the Southeastern corner of Michigan, the Lapointe name rings a bell.
Martin Lapointe played for the Detroit Red Wings from 1993 until 2001 — winning two Stanley Cups in 1997 and 1998. He played nearly a thousand NHL games and is now serving as the director of player personnel for the Montreal Canadiens.
That resume speaks for itself. But his son Philippe is ready to write his own.
“He wants to be his own player,” Martin said. “He doesn’t want to be known as Marty’s son.”
Philippe, a freshman on the Michigan hockey team, started skating when he was four. He was an extremely active kid who could not get enough of the outdoors. Whether he planned on it or not, he was always going to be a hockey player. He grew up around the rink, but unlike most kids playing hockey, he spent time in NHL locker rooms. This gave him even more of a drive to succeed.
“(Playing college hockey) is something he’s wanted to do since he was a kid,” Martin said. “Having a chance to play for University of Michigan, for him it was a dream come true.”
Philippe is coming off a stellar year with the Trail Smoke Eaters of the British Columbia Hockey League, where he totaled 20 goals and 35 assists in 36 games.
Former Trail Smoke Eaters head coach Jeff Tambellini felt Philippe was the perfect leader to build his team around. Philippe’s greatest intangible trait is his leadership, which will be a valuable asset to Michigan’s highly touted freshman class.
“He was a player that I thought was so similar to the way his father played,” Tambellini said. “You look at the skillset that Marty had, Phil does the same things.”
Former coach Red Berenson originally recruited Philippe before head coach Mel Pearson took over the process in 2017, and was equally impressed with his skillset. An additional factor of his coming to Michigan was his brother Guyot, who played for the Wolverines club hockey team before graduating in 2019.
On the ice, Philippe has a high hockey IQ, is scrappy physicality and has incredible vision. What sets him apart though is the way he carries himself.
“His character sets the foundation per every part of his game,” Tambellini said. “The way he works, the way he trains, his skill set, his desire to get better and his ability to lead a group. His ability to be the first man through the doors, taking on whatever the challenge is.”
Added Martin: “He’s willing to do the little things that don’t necessarily reflect on the score sheet.”
Philippe comes from an NHL background, and a decorated one at that. It would be easy to wilt under the lofty expectations his father’s career set. But to Philippe, these expectations were not a reason to run from the spotlight — they were a chance to learn.
“He’d watch the way Marty competes, the way he works, the ways he won championships,” Tambellini said. “I think that it’s more just who he is and I don’t think there’s any pressure that comes with it.”
At 20 years old, Phillipe is one of the oldest members of his class. Last year he served as the captain of the Trail Smoke Eaters, which will be extremely valuable for his transition to the college game.
“Best thing is to be great teammates, try and challenge for as many spots and work your way into the fabric of the team,” Tambellini said. “I don’t think he’ll have any issue doing that.”
For Philippe, there will always be the outside noise. There will always be the comparisons to his father. But he has tuned it all out and is ready to chart his own course.
“He doesn’t want to rely on what his dad did or live on his dad’s name,” Martin said. “He wants to be known as Philippe Lapointe.”
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