Flyers facing uncertainty about Laperriere

Laperriere
Laperriere
Posted: October 07, 2010

PITTSBURGH - Amid all of the speculation surrounding Ian Laperriere yesterday, that his career might be in jeopardy after visiting a head-trauma specialist in Pittsburgh last Friday, the veteran had a clear message.

"My quote is: I'm not retiring and I'm just trying to feel better," Laperriere wrote in a text message to the Daily News.

No one has closed the door on Laperriere's brief but storied career in Philadelphia, but it does appear that the 36-year-old may not skate again this season.

Laperriere has been struggling with postconcussion symptoms since he took a Paul Martin slap shot to the face last April in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in New Jersey.

Laperriere admitted that he was not completely honest with the Flyers' medical staff about his symptoms when he returned to the lineup exactly 4 weeks after receiving 80-to-100 stitches and sustaining a brain contusion that caused internal bleeding on the brain and showed up as a spot on an MRI.

That spot was not completely gone when Laperriere resumed skating in May.

Laperriere struggled with headaches and vision problems all summer - but still returned to training camp and even played in the first preseason game against New Jersey on Sept. 21.

Whether Laperriere retires, sits out this season or even a portion of the season, the Flyers will be faced with roster and salary-cap implications. Currently, the Flyers list him as "out indefinitely," and he will begin the season on the short-term injured reserve. If the Flyers were to have moved him to Long Term Injured Reserve by yesterday's 3 o'clock roster deadline, they would gain his roster spot back and receive a cushion on the salary cap for a replacement player. With that comes a requirement to stay on the LTIR for at least 10 games or 24 days. That part would not be the problem.

But if a team has a player on LTIR from the start of the season until the end - as defenseman Mike Rathje had been for the past 3 years - it would be required to saddle the full salary-cap hit of a player they choose to claim off re-entry waivers instead of the half as per the usual rules.

Even if Laperriere chose to retire, the Flyers would still be stuck with his $1.1 million salary-cap hit because he signed a special, "over 35" contract. Laperriere still has 2 years remaining on his deal.

In the meantime, general manager Paul Holmgren will have to work around that roadblock.

Goaltender Michael Leighton, who will miss at least a month with a bulging disk, was officially added to the LTIR list yesterday.

Still, the Flyers were forced to loan forward Andreas Nodl to AHL Adirondack yesterday - in a purely procedural move - to make room under the opening day cap.

Once Leighton is processed on the LTIR today, the Flyers will have room to recall Nodl. Nodl traveled with the team yesterday and will be available tonight if Peter Laviolette chooses to use him in the regular-season opener at Pittsburgh.

For now, Laperriere will do what he's always done: Fight to overcome any obstacles in his way.

"Hey, if this is it, I had a hell of a run," Laperriere told the Courier-Post yesterday. "I played a long time, I played a lot of games and I met a lot of nice people. I'm happy I didn't lose my eye. If it was a little bit lower I'd be blind right now. I don't know if I would have been able to deal with losing my eyesight. Every time I'm down on what's going on, I'm like, 'It's not like I'm 22 and I missed on a career.' I had a hell of a career for a guy from where I came from."

Pronger close?

Defenseman Chris Pronger, who was recently ranked among the Top 25 defensemen of all time by Sports Illustrated, would not reveal yesterday if he would be in the lineup tonight.

Pronger has been rehabbing an offseason knee surgery during training camp and did not play in a single preseason game.

"There is a chance he could play," Paul Holmgren said.

Holmgren was asked if it was a good chance, a small chance, a slim chance or no chance.

"I'd say there is a chance," he replied. "I do not know if it will be [today] but he will be back very soon."

Slap shots

Brian Boucher is expected to start in goal tonight for the Flyers at Pittsburgh's new Consol Energy Center . . . Former Flyer Arron Asham is listed as day-to-day with a shoulder injury. Now with Pittsburgh, Asham, 32, has played for every Atlantic Division team except the Rangers . . . The Flyers are 4-7-2 in season openers on the road. Overall, the Flyers are 19-16-7 in 42 season openers in franchise history. Coach Peter Laviolette is 2-2-2 in season openers in his career. The Flyers also will be the first opponent for St. Louis on Saturday night. The Blues are 9-5-2 when opening at home in their franchise history.

For more news and analysis,

read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at

http://go.philly.com/frequentflyers.

Follow him on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/DNFlyers.

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