Alex Lemieux has been here before — but this year, he’s planning to stick around longer than two days.
The 16-year-old rookie winger, a second-round pick (40th overall) of the Halifax Mooseheads last summer, is at training camp at Cole Harbour Place this week in a bid for the roster spot he probably could have had last season if he wanted it.
Lemieux, who might have been the youngest player in the QMJHL last season courtesy of his Dec. 26 birthday, left camp seeking ice time and rejoined his midget team in Quebec.
“I was young last year, very young,” he said.
Although the Longueuil, Que., native missed 15 games with a groin injury, he logged all kinds of ice time with Charles Lemoyne and notched 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points in 38 games. In the process, he worked on his limited English and added about 10 pounds of muscle to his frame.
“It was the right decision,” Lemieux said. “I got more experience and I have more confidence in myself. I am more prepared to help the Mooseheads this year than last year.”
He had a rough welcome to camp, getting high-sticked in the morning and waiting two hours at the hospital to get five stitches. But he was back on the ice that night.
“He looked very good out there,” Mooseheads general manager Cam Russell said. “He’s in excellent shape, he skates well and he had some good scoring chances.”
Although the 5-foot-11, 184-pounder’s decision to leave moved him off the radar for many, Lemieux is very much a piece of the Mooseheads’ concerted rebuilding effort.
Lemieux, whose older brother Gabriel is a veteran defenceman with the Shawinigan Cataractes, has a scouting report that fits Russell’s mold perfectly. He is known as a hard-working, physical role player who can kill penalties.
“That’s what I want to show the coaching staff I can do,” said Lemieux. “This year, I’m very ready.”