Philadelphia Flyers forward Ian Laperriere
, winner of the 2011 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, was naturalized as a U.S. citizen on Tuesday after being sworn in at the Citizenship and Immigration Services in Mount Laurel, N.J.
After Laperriere and his wife, Magali, made their citizenship official by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, supervisory immigration officer Keith Dorr presented each of them a Certificate of Naturalization.
"I am very proud to be an American," Laperriere said. "I met a lot of great people here throughout my career and a lot of nice military people. It is contagious meeting those military people and seeing the sacrifice that they make for this country and how proud they are to be from this country. I have been here for 16 years and have lived most of my adult life in the United States. The way people here are proud of living in this country rubbed off on me and my family and that was just one of the many reasons we decided to apply for United States Citizenship."
Laperriere, 37, sustained a severe head injury during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs after blocking a Paul Martin slapshot with his face against New Jersey, suffering 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 that summer, but could not overcome his concussion-related symptoms and has been on the long-term injury list ever since.
"Everywhere I go, people were nice enough to come up and thank me for taking two pucks in the face," Laperriere told the media back in April.
"Lappy", who was the third player in Flyers history to win the Masterton Trophy, still has one year left on his contract with the Flyers.
Still, he's 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."
Laperriere's hockey career spanned parts of 18 seasons with five different teams, including the Flyers, St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche. He's played in 1,083 career games and produced 121 goals, 336 points and 1,956 penalty minutes.
"The happiest place I am is at the rink," Laperriere said. "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."