forward Ian Laperriere
is reminded almost every day of the sacrifices he's made as a professional hockey player -- and he couldn't be happier.
As it turns out, the bond he created with those fans of Philadelphia in the short time he has been with the organization has left a lasting impression.
"Everywhere I go, people were nice enough to come up and thank me for taking two pucks in the face," Laperriere told the media after learning he was one of three finalists for the 2010-11 Bill Masterton
"It's funny but true and I wish I could have signed here 10 years ago," he continued. "In saying that, I had a great time in L.A. and Colorado and everywhere I played. As long as I got skates on and teammates around me, that's the best place I can be."
Laperriere sustained a severe head injury during last year's playoffs when he blocked a Paul Martin
slapshot with his face against New Jersey and suffered a concussion and fractured orbital bone. He returned a little more than a month later to finish the Flyers' playoff run that ended two games short of a championship. He attempted to return in training camp, but could not overcome his concussion-related symptoms and has been on the long-term injury list all season.
Nevertheless, he has served the Flyers in several capacities, particularly as a mentor for young players in the organization. It's a role he's enjoyed.
"I love working with the young guys," he said. "I've gotten a head start to meet those guys and their junior teams. If I have to make that call, I would want to stay in the game whether that be as an assistant or working with the team in some way. I enjoy skating with (Chris) Pronger and (Matt) Walker and with the black aces.
"The happiest place I am is at the rink. I don't know if everyone can say their happiest place is at the office but I can. People say to me, why don't you spend time with your kids, but my kids are at school most of the day; they have their own lives too. I'd love to sit next to them, but I can't."
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette
was glad to see Laperriere named a finalist for the Masterton Trophy.
"You're talking about one of the finest people you can meet," Laviolette said. "He's a terrific teammate, terrific friend to a lot of players and somebody you really enjoyed coaching and working with. Having him around still is a positive for our organization. I'm happy for the nomination, well deserved."
Now Laperriere is just hoping to have an opportunity to be in Las Vegas for the Awards ceremony on June 22.
"I knew hockey before I met my wife, so it's something that's going to be with me forever," Laperriere said. "The passion that I brought on the ice was because I loved the game. Off the ice, I always tried to be as normal a guy as I could be."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale