For those of you that just hopped on the Kings bandwagon, its about time you learned about some of the former players. One fan favorite from back in the day was Ian Laperriere. Known as “Lappy” to the fans, the Canadian right-winger played with the Kings from 1996-2004.
Although Lappy was not much of a goal scorer or playmaker, the man could fight with the best of them. Standing at just 6’1, he was not the tallest guy on the ice, but feared no one. If the Kings were ever down and in need of a momentum boost (which was quite often back in the day), Lappy was ready to sacrifice himself for the team. In one game, I witnessed Laperriere try to fight someone that had just accidentally hit the Kings’ goalie. After the opposing player refused, Lappy went up to him and started fighting anyways, pulling off the players helmet, jersey, and one of his elbow pads.
Laperriere also went on to play for the Avalanche, where he set the record for most fights in an Avalanche jersey. That same year, he qualified for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. There could not be an award to better describe Lappy’s play. He was that guy that would do anything it took to win and was the first to back up his teammates whenever he had to.
While Laperriere was playing for the Philadelphia Flyers, he suffered two of the most brutal injuries in NHL history. In 2009, he was hit in the mouth by a slap shot that required him to get between 50 and 100 stitches and knocked out seven of his teeth (five real, two fake). For most sane people, this would mean sitting out a few games, but not for Laperriere. In fact, he didn’t even take the rest of the game off, returning for the third period and not missing any action.
Bad luck struck again that postseason when Laperriere was once again struck in the face by a puck that would actually knock him out for some time. This play is shown in this week’s Video of the Week, as Lappy shattered his orbital bone, lost vision in his eye, and needed near 100 stitches. Everyone expected him to sit out the rest of the postseason, but if this article has taught you anything about Ian Laperriere, you should already know that the dude is tough as nails and wouldn’t let any injury hold him out for too long. Ian returned that postseason in game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, only missing the Flyers’ second round series. For his superhuman efforts, Lappy won the “Toughest Player in the NHL” award, and trust me, that may be the most difficult of them all.
However, Laperriere’s actions took their toll on his body. He experienced post-concussion symptoms and nerve damage to his eye, on account of, you know, being hit in the face by a puck twice in five months. As a result, the Flyers put him on the injured list for the entire 2010-2011. So this would surely knock him out of the game… wrong… Laperriere served younger players on the Flyers as a mentor.
Finally, the NHL recognized Laperriere’s heart and awarded him the 2011 Bill Masterton Trophy despite the fact that he did not play in one game. Although several doctors have been advising Lappy to retire he did not do so until June 12, 2012. Laperriere will continue to serve as a mentor to younger players on for the Flyers organization.