Flyers' Laperriere surprised by one aspect of Stanley Cup Final
Among the many attractions of writing about hockey is that so many of the players are good guys and so few are jerks. Most players are accommodating and some truly are terrific people that you’re glad you got to know.
Ian Laperriere, the scrappy Flyers forward and former King, is one of the nicest and most honest and unaffected guys you’ll meet in any sport. He made his NHL debut in the 1993-94 season with St. Louis and has gone on to play more than 1,000 games for the Rangers, Kings (where he spent parts of nine seasons), Avalanche and Flyers.
Until this season he never got close to playing in the Stanley Cup finals.
Being here, he said after the Flyers skated at the United Center Sunday morning in advance of Game 5 against the Blackhawks, has been an eye-opener -- but not for the reason you’d think.
“This is crazy,” he said, gesturing at the clusters of reporters interviewing players in the Flyers’ locker room.
“This is surreal. Like I’ve never seen anything like it. But it makes sense. There’s two teams left and everybody goes to the same spot. But until you see it you don’t really realize.”
The games themselves have not been surprising.
“On the ice the intensity is all I expected,” he said. “You try to enjoy it but you don’t until the end. You just go day by day.
“They say embrace it, enjoy, but you’ve got work to do. We only have five days left no matter. Hopefully looking back I’m going to have a huge smile on my face.”
Incidentally, Laperriere enjoyed his best NHL season in 2005-06 with Colorado, scoring 21 goals and 45 points for then-coach Joel Quenneville, now coach of the Blackhawks.
“I think I had a lot of confidence that year. He put me with different players, more offensive-oriented players. Everything seemed to go in that year,” Laperriere said. “I fooled everybody. Too bad it wasn’t my contract year.”
A season like that usually raises expectations the following season. Not for him, Laperriere joked. “They know. They were like, ‘That’s a fluke. You’ll go back to being a grinder and fight every two games,’” he said.
“I really like Joel. I’ve got so much respect for him. He and his wife are very nice people. Everybody knows how good a coach he is but he’s an even better person.”
More on Game 5 later at www.latimes.com/sports
--Helene Elliott, reporting ChicagoPhoto: Flyers center Ian Laperriere tracks down the puck ahead of Blackhawks center John Madden in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals. Credit: Dale Zanine / US Presswire