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Dropping the gloves to clean up the pond

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Ian Laperriere is no stranger to dropping the gloves. He even did it when he was a pre-teen. Back then, though, it was for slightly different reasons.
 
It was during his childhood, playing on the outdoor rink near his home in Montreal, that Laperriere honed the skills that have served him well for 17 NHL seasons.
 
"When it snows they had shovels, everybody stops, drops their gloves -- for different reasons then -- shovels the snow and throw it out the doors," Laperriere told NHL.com.
 
Now in his first season with the Philadelphia Flyers, Laperriere will go back to his outdoor roots when he and the Flyers play the Boston Bruins at Fenway Park on New Year's Day as part of the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
 
"I have great memories of going out there from my childhood," Laperriere said. "In my era, we used to skate at the rink a couple times a week, but most of the time after school we'd go outside at the park and skate with a bunch of older guys and younger guys. Just put your stick in middle of the ice and go play. It didn't matter how cold it was. It was the thing that kids used to do; they didn't have (video games) to kill time. We had to go outside and play hockey even in harsh winter growing up."
 
Laperriere's club team played at an indoor rink, but when practice was over, or it was an off-day, he and his friends would hit the local outdoor ice for some fun times.
 
"We had our own practice from our team, but we wanted to skate a bit more. Just from talking with guys at school, it's like, 'I'll be at the park after school. We don't have practice we'll meet there,'" Laperriere said.
 
Laperriere said lots of those games involved going against older players.
 
"You have two full teams on each side, and you had 20-year-old guys on one side and you're 12-years-old and you're skating," Laperriere said. "It got me a little bit better playing against older guys, that's how I see it."
 

"In my era, we used to skate at the rink a couple times a week, but most of the time after school we'd go outside at the park and skate with a bunch of older guys and younger guys. Just put your stick in middle of the ice and go play."
-- Ian Laperriere

Laperriere said things never got out of hand because everybody was out for a good time. It also helped that his cousins, who were about 10 years older, always watched out for him.
 
"It's fun, and it's challenging (going against older players),"  Laperriere said. "I always had my big cousins with me. I'll always believe you play against older and better players you just improve your game. It wasn't contact by any means. The ice was just so-so, too. Nobody wanted to get injured, wasn't physical at all. Just like passing the puck and scoring goals. That's the way it was then."
 
It's not quite like that now for Laperriere, who has 1,814 penalty minutes in 1,010 games. But playing outside again will take him back to those 12-year-old days.
 
"With the history of Fenway Park itself, it's going to be special for everybody to play there," Laperriere said. "I'm sure that game is going to remind me of those fond memories from growing up."
 
Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com.