A trip to the Stanley Cup Final has left Ian Laperriere hungrier than ever to win a title. Taking a puck to the face during last spring's playoffs has left him vowing to wear a half-shield for the rest of his NHL career -- but not to quit the fighting aspect of his game.
"I will always play with a half-shield now," Laperriere told the Philadelphia Flyers' website this week. "The difference is when I fight now I will take off my helmet. I am going to have to fight. The shield won't make a difference. I will have to take off my helmet and square-off instead of just grabbing the guy and fighting in the moment."
Laperriere started wearing a shield after he blocked a point shot from the point by New Jersey Devils' defenseman Paul Martin during Game 5 in the first round. Taking a shot in the face left him with 70 stitches over his right eye and what was eventually to found out to be a brain bruise that caused him to miss the next 10 playoff games. He returned for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Montreal and played all six games of the Final against Chicago.
He's more than ready to take another run at the Cup.
One of the new players who came in board in Philadelphia this summer is an old adversary.
"I've played against Jody (Shelley). He is one of the toughest guys in the League," he said. "When you have a guy like that other teams will be hesitant to try and push us around because he will be in our lineup. That's always welcome."
Laperriere knows firsthand about dropping the gloves with Shelley.
"This year Jody hit (Mike Richards) and I had to jump in there. Jody is a big, tough man. He is one of those guys if you have to fight, you fight. But I don't plan on fighting guys like that. I'm just glad he is on my team now."
Laperriere, who's spent most of his career as a checker and banger, couldn't help but notice the new crop of players on the Flyers' blue line as well.
"[Matt] Walker is another tough guy who I have played against for some time. He is a steady defenseman and is not afraid to fight. He is one of those guys who is very respected around the league."
"I've played against [Andrej] Meszaros a lot. He is one of those defenseman who will block a bunch of shots. You have to keep your head up when he's out there or he will hit you."
Although some of the guys are new, one player in particular is a familiar face to Laperriere.
"I know Sean O'Donnell really well," he said of the 39-year-old defenseman, who signed with the Flyers last month. "I played with him in L.A. He was a great teammate and defenseman. He's won before and he knows what it takes. He brings a great work ethic to our team. I know he is hungry to win the Cup again, because he's won one before. That's why he is coming here."
The Flyers made the Final after earning the last playoff berth in the East by winning a shootout on the final day of the regular season. However, Laperriere says his team's playoff run was no fluke.
"You don't push our teammates when they are on the ice, because you know they are going to come after you," Laperriere told the Flyers' site. "All of the guys we got are character guys and you can never have enough of them."