confirmed two things this summer. One, he is hungrier than ever to not only get back to the Stanley Cup Final, but to win it this time. And two, that he will in fact continue to wear a half-shield for the remainder of his career but does not expect anytime soon to quit the fighting aspect of his game.
“I will always play with a half shield now,” said Laperriere. “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 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final vs. Montreal after he blocked a shot from the point by New Jersey Devils’ defenseman Paul Martin in the third period that 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.
An incident that was famously praised by a standing ovation from the Flyers faithful at the following Flyers home game after an in-area video announcing he was chosen as The Hockey News’ toughest player in the NHL. Click here to relive the moment!
Like so many Flyers this offseason, Laperriere has also paid close attention to the Flyers offseason moves, and after squeezing in a couple family vacations this summer, he is ready to get back at it.
“I’m excited and hungry. Last season was a great run but we ended up short. I’m hungrier to go even further and going further means winning the Cup this season. I’m sure everybody feels the same way as I do.”
“I’ve played against Jody (Shelley). He is one of the toughest guys in the league. When you have a guy like that other teams will be hesitant to try and push us around because he will be in our line-up. That’s always welcome.”
It just so happens that Laperriere knows first hand about dropping the gloves with Shelley.
“This year Jody hit Richie [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.”
The defensive minded Laperriere couldn’t help but notice the new crop of players on his 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.”
And although some of the guys are new on the team, one player in particular is certainly a familiar face to Laperriere.
“I know Sean O’Donnell really well. I played with him in LA. 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.”
If any Flyers fans have a doubt that last year’s run was a fluke, all you would have to do is hear what one of the heart and soul players of that team has to say about the team you will see in 2010-11.
“You don’t push our teammates when they are on the ice, because you know they are going to come after you,” said Laperriere. “All of the guys we got are character guys and you can never have enough of them.”