July 1st, 2009 the Philadelphia Flyers announced they've signed forward Ian Laperriere to a 3-year contract. Not a sexy move at the time, many Flyers fans only knew Laperriere as the punk who fought Scotty Hartnell a year prior. Little did they know that in less than a year's time, they would be falling in love with the man affectionately known across the NHL as “Lappy”.
It’s not often that a city accepts you in as one of their own, after a single season, wearing the hometown sweater. The chance of that city being Philadelphia, the city of grit, determination, and hard work, is even more rare. For Ian Laperriere, he has not only found that to be the case here in the City of Brotherly Love, but he finds himself among the most beloved sports figures this city has ever known --
The minute Ian stepped on Philadelphia ice donning the orange and black, you knew there was something special about the man. He gave his all, every shift, every night. Game in and game out. He loved his teammates and hated losing.
It wasn’t long before the battle-hardened Philadelphia faithful began finding a soft spot in their calloused hearts. Ian was, and is, the epitome of a warrior. He played the game the way it should...nay, the way it deserved to be played.
With every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears, every single night. Laperriere bled for his teammates, the city, the fans, and most importantly, the crest on the front.
3-goals, and 17-assists in 82-games played. Not exactly eye popping numbers. But it wasn’t about the statistical, but the intangible. The leadership. The camaraderie. That was what made Ian a special player. Each and every one of us owes a debt of gratitude to the man, he made us believe that there is hope, that there is still something ever so special about the game we love. That it’s not just about flash and dazzle, but grit, determination, and --most importantly-- miles and miles of heart.
Novemeber 27, 2009. The day that Philadelphia fell in love with Ian Laperriere. Who puts their face in front of a Jason Pominville slap shot?
Well, Ian Laperriere does. And he would do it again, literally. Ultimately, the second time would be the end of a long and tough career. Ian was forced into early retirement because of a brain contusion from that final blocked shot. A retirement that he would wait 2-years to announce.
To help the team. Even in his injured status, if he would have retired, his salary cap hit would have counted against the organization. Something that could be circumvented if he stayed on LTIR. So Ian did what he always did, put the team first, and announced his retirement a little less than a week ago.
The Orange and Black Pack would like to give one final salute to a man that made us believe in the game we love so much. A man that epitomized the slogan “Play for the crest on the front, not the name on the back”. Someone who gave his all every night, no matter the circumstances.
And for that, we thank you, Ian.
Thanks for making us believe again…
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