After Flyers' Ottawa trip, not a happy Homer

Posted: April 07, 2011

Paul Holmgren flipped off the television. He was in South Jersey, watching his Flyers play in Ottawa, and decided he had seen enough.

Holmgren was tired of seeing his team, losers of 13 of its last 19 contests, free-fall through the Eastern Conference standings. So he took matters into his own hands yesterday.

Multiple team sources told the Daily News that Holmgren held a brief but very poignant closed-door meeting with all of the Flyers' players and coaches before their practice yesterday at the Skate Zone.

"I'd say it was pretty standard for something like that this time of year," one source said. "But he was pretty angry."

It was Holmgren's first meeting of that nature with the team this season, sources said. He is usually calm and reserved.

Holmgren, according to sources, spoke about the need for the Flyers to win puck battles during the game and compete, something they've done little of during the final quarter of the season.

The Flyers, with just two games remaining in the regular season, can slide as far as fourth in the East. Just 8 days ago, the Flyers had an 88 percent probability to clinch the No. 1 seed after their win in Pittsburgh. Now they have little chance to get the No. 1 seed, even though they still have a game in-hand over Washington. But with a win last night over Florida, the Capitals cut their magic number for the East's top seed to just one point.

The Flyers' magic number to win their first Atlantic Division title since 2004 remains at three points with Pittsburgh. The Flyers' game in-hand against Pittsburgh has vanished.

Laperriere honored

Ian Laperriere's equipment has hung neatly in his locker at the Flyers' Skate Zone in Voorhees since September, hardly used. Laperriere has missed all 80 games with postconcussion symptoms from blocking a shot with his face last spring in the first round of the playoffs. He has not practiced. But he has not been absent.

That's why Laperriere, 37, was unanimously named the Philadelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association's nominee for the Bill Masterton Award for the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

"It's been the hardest point of my career," Laperriere said yesterday. "To tell you the truth, everything happens for a reason and I am a big believer that for me to be a Flyer while it happened to me, there is kind of something behind that. I can't imagine any other team that would take care of their players like they are doing with me. They have been giving me all the tools to keep me busy and they know how much I love the game.

"It's been hard, it's been hard watching, it's been hard to not be a part of something I've been used to since I'm 5 years old."

The Flyers have kept Laperriere busy enough, sending him on scouting missions and to work with some of the Flyers' prospects in the minor leagues, but not too busy. At the same time, Laperriere has made a conscious effort to not be around too much where he feels like he is getting in the way.

"He is always welcome here any time he wants, he's still part of this team," coach Peter Laviolette said. "He exhibits his character and work ethic and love of the game more than anyone else. He is what you want your team to exemplify. You miss a guy like him. Certainly, when times are tough, you want those type of people in your lineup. He is a positive guy, he's infectious, if you're low on energy, he can help swing that. He could turn the tide in a game."

Laperriere said he will consider a career in coaching once his contract expires after next season.

"I can't see myself going in any other direction than hockey," Laperriere said. "I am going to try to do something in the game. I really enjoy working with the young guys. I have always been an approachable guy and that is one of my qualities. We will see where life is going to take me but I want to try to touch everything."

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