By JAY BOEHMER
Staff Writer — firstname.lastname@example.org
Ian Laperriere is one of the Flyers’ classiest and most respected players. Throughout the sport, there are few that exemplify sportsmanship and hardwork the way he does.
Unfortunately, that modest attitude and unwavering dedication to his team can come at a price.
“Lappy” hesitated and dove at a slapshot during a Flyers penalty kill in the third period of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the game in which Philadelphia clinched a series victory. His awkward lunge at the puck left his face exposed, and he took the puck right above the eye.
Amidst the blood and panic, Laperriere had thought his eye was gone, that he was going to be blind. He eventually settled down, received somewhere between 60 and 70 stitches, and got back up to do a post game interview. He had decided by then that he would put a visor on his helmet to protect his eyes the next time he played.
What Laperriere didn’t know was that the next time he played wouldn’t be in a week or so when the Flyers next series starts up.
After getting several opinions from doctors in both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, it has been decided that he is not safe to return to play. He is suffering from a brain contusion and concussion. Injuries like that take time to heal, and no treatment or surgery can speed up the process.
Ian Laperriere is to miss the rest of the playoffs.
The Flyers, already without scoring talent in Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne, will have to find a way to replace the defensive backbone of the forward lines.
This will likely mean the call-up of another AHL player from the Adirondack Phantoms. Possible choices are Jon Kalinski and Patrick Maroon. Kalinski played 10 games for the Flyers from the end of November through the middle of December, posting 2 assists, 9 shots, and a plus/minus rating of minus 1. Maroon has yet to see NHL action.
Sadly, no player can be thrown into his role and asked to do what Laperriere does game in and game out, from being the penalty killing machine to the shutdown forward. His absence will require a considerable tightening up of play from the rest of this Flyers roster.