Flyers' Ian Laperriere announces retirement

Posted: June 13, 2012

IAN LAPERRIERE waited until after the Stanley Cup final ended, with the Los Angeles Kings on top, to announce something that was 2 years in the making. 

Laperriere, 38, officially announced his retirement from hockey on Tuesday. He spent the last two seasons of his contract working with the Flyers' prospects in a coaching role after being sidelined with postconcussion syndrome.

Laperriere spent only one season in a Flyers uniform, but will go down as one of the most beloved players in franchise history for his sacrifice, dedication and passion.

"I'm just glad I had a chance to wear the orange and black," Laperriere said in a conference call with reporters. "It was my shortest time here compared to the other teams I played for, but that's probably one of my biggest regrets: not having a chance to play longer than that in this great organization."

On April 22, 2010, Laperriere blocked a Paul Martin slap shot and was hit in the face in the waning minutes of a Game 5, series-clinching victory over the New Jersey Devils. Laperriere was not wearing any facial protection and the shot struck just above his eye, temporarily knocking out vision in that eye.

A subsequent MRI exam revealed bleeding on the brain and a severe concussion. Laperriere required some 70 stitches to close the wound. Amazingly, Laperriere returned to the ice a little more than a month later to help the Flyers close out his hometown Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference final.

He played in all six games of the 2010 Stanley Cup final. It was his only trip to the Cup final. Watching the Kings raise the Cup on Monday night, a franchise he spent parts of nine seasons with, Laperriere was filled with bittersweet emotions.

"It's not jealousy, it's more like you wish it was you," Laperriere said. "Every year, it's like that. I'm happy for the Kings, actually. I've never won it, and it's not something that just because it was the Kings, it's every year — the year before when Boston won, it I felt the same way, and Chicago it was way worse because I was on the other end of it. It's not jealousy, it's more like you wish it was you."

In all, Laperriere played 1,083 regular-season games and 67 playoff games. He racked up 1,956 penalty minutes, 196 career fights, 121 goals and 215 assists for 336 points, playing a style that few players could make a lengthy career.

One of the best penalty killers ever to don a Flyers uniform, Laperriere also fought a career-high 25 times as a Flyer in 2009-10. He won the 2011 Masterton Trophy for "dedication and perseverance to the game" without ever actually playing a game that season, for his constant positive attitude and willingness to support teammates.

Laperriere said he is still not "100 percent" healthy, but feels "pretty good" now.

"I'm lucky, because I played close to 1,100 games, and I was hoping as a little boy to play one," Laperriere said. "I surpassed that and played a lot longer than I ever expected. The way I played the game was fighting and being physical, and I was looking around and it's tough to find guys that play my way that played that long. I feel very fortunate and very proud of what I did."

Laperriere's contract officially expires on July 1. The good news is that Laperriere is not going anywhere. He has settled down and built a house in Haddonfield, N.J., where he wants to watch his boys, Tristan and Zach, grow up. He's expected to continue to work with the Flyers' young players in a development role, and he'd like to pursue coaching.

He wants to pass on the experience he has gained over his last 2 decades in the game.

Laperriere has had 2 years to stare down an official retirement, but hanging up the skates has a finality to it that is still tough for him to bear. 

"You see me at the rink and everything's good, I have a smile on my face, but trust me, it's been a really, really tough past 2 years," Laperriere said. "I'm an actor, I can put on an actor face. When you get good people around you in this organization, they really helped my transition. I couldn't be happier, in that regard, to finish my career and retire on this team."  

Contact Frank Seravalli at seravaf@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter @DNFlyers. Read his blog, Frequent Flyers, at www.philly.com/frequentflyers.

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