(Voorhees, NJ) – When the Flyers signed free-agent forward Ian Laperriere
on July 1 to a three-year deal, a player who has spent the majority of his 16-year NHL career in the Western Conference, it was a move made with more than just goals and assists in mind.
After all, Laperriere’s 19 points (7g, 12a) in 74 games last season with Colorado didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard. It’s the other parts of his game, though, that were so attractive to general manager Paul Holmgren and the Flyers' brass.
|Ian Laperriere was signed to a three-year contract by the Flyers on July 1, 2009. (Getty Images) |
“[Laperriere] is a role player that can take a little bit of the burden off some of our other guys in other roles like penalty killing and face-offs,” said Holmgren at the time of the announcement. “He is a warrior-type player. He will provide us with lots of energy and is one of those types of character players that everybody is after.”FlyersTV
: Laperriere press conference
Spend even two minutes around Laperriere and it becomes evident that he is one of those people that are just plain fun to be around.
“You know, I’m pretty much…I get along with everybody. I’m French-Canadian, but I like everybody,” he joked. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Russian, Czech, Slovak, Finn; I’m known to get along with any language, even if my English is awful. Maybe that’s why those guys like to talk to me because they feel like they’re talking to one of their own without English (laughs).
“I just like to have fun, show up every day to work, and the guys appreciate that, I guess.”
While his good nature and wide smile are sure to keep things loose in the locker room, on the ice he can be the exact opposite if you’re his opponent or happen to take any liberties against his teammates. That’s when the “warrior,” as Holmgren described, is let loose.
“I’m not a heavyweight by any means, or the toughest guy in the league, but if I see something I don’t like, [or] someone takes advantage of my teammates, I’ll be one of the first ones here [to respond],” he said on Tuesday morning after an informal skate. “I might have to fight with some of my teammates to get there, but I hope to be the guy.”
Laperriere is referring to the overall team toughness that permeates throughout the club’s roster. In fact, just about every one of the Flyers’ offseason additions brings an edge to his game, including Laperriere, who has almost 1800 career penalty minutes.
He’s looking forward to being on a team that is difficult to play against in more ways than one.
“We just can’t get away from being team-tough,” he said. “It’s different to be team-tough than goon-tough, and we’ve got a bunch of guys who can fight but fight for the right reasons and fight at the right times. It’s a fine line.
“That’s our job as a team to understand that, and to become a tough team to play against.”
After signing with the Flyers, the 35-year-od right wing spent the majority of the summer in his native Montreal training and spending time with his wife and two boys. He came back on August 23rd to begin preparing for the season and to meet his new teammates.
He would like to forget the 2008-09 campaign as quickly as possible, as Colorado finished with the worst record in the Western Conference a year ago.
“It was the toughest year of my career,” said Laperriere. “It’s not fun to lose every night, you know. It was an awful year and I want to put that year behind me. I’m just look forward to [being on] a winning team.
“Last year [the Flyers] were successful, but not even close to where we want to be. Hopefully, I can be a little piece of the puzzle, and can help this team to achieve the ultimate goal: to win the Stanley Cup.”