CNSPhilly.com notes Ian Laperriere doesn’t pretend it was easy to show up at the rink with a smile on his face every day, helping young players jump-start their careers in the NHL.
For two seasons, Laperriere showed up at games for the Flyers, sat in the press box, talked to injured players and gave them encouragement during their rehab.
“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 two years,” said the 38-year-old forward.
“I’m an actor, you guys know that. I can put on an actor face.”
With his contract now fully expired, taking him off the Flyers’ salary cap, Laperriere has retired and made it “official,” though the story was out there all along.
Laperriere hasn’t played since the Flyers’ 2010 Stanley Cup Final because of post-concussion syndrome, the result of being struck by a puck in the right eye that spring against New Jersey.
His $1.166 salary had been on the Flyers’ cap for the past two seasons. Why didn’t the 17-year veteran retire sooner?
Didn’t matter. His salary still would have counted against the cap and the Flyers still would have had to put him on long-term injury reserve. By remaining, he fulfilled a job within the organization and earned his NHL salary while biding time to recover from his injury, which never happened.
“I knew [retirement was coming] for a while,” Laperriere said. “Right when I came to training camp two years ago and my eye and head wasn’t right, I felt I would give myself the length of my contract to see if I could do something about it, but more and more as time went by, I kinda knew nothing was going to change.
“To come back and play hockey the way I wanted to play was out of the question. It’s a faster sport, a tough sport out there. For me to come back today wouldn’t be fair to my family or be fair for the Flyers, either. I’m feeling pretty good but I’m not at 100 percent at [age] 38 to come back and play the way I wanted to play.”
He wants to pursue fulltime coaching, but will continue in his current role with the Flyers until such a job comes along.
“For now, that is what I’m doing – working with the young guys,” he said. “But I feel I want to get closer to the game. Coaching is a route I wouldn’t mind exploring and doing that.
“What I am doing, I try to be around as much prospects as I can just to show them what it takes on the ice, off the ice. They all have talent. It takes a lot more than that to play at the next level and stay at the next level.
“It’s a goal to make the NHL but it’s a bigger challenge to stay in it 15-16 years or even 10 years. That’s what I do now – try to pass on my experience over the years.”