The Loss of Lappy
The hits just keep on coming for the Philadelphia Flyers. As if the preseason goaltending controversy wasn’t enough, Flyers Nation was greeted with some heart-wrenching news yesterday afternoon.
It was revealed that Flyers veteran forward Ian Laperriere will miss the entirety of the 2010-11 season due to post-concussion symptoms. Chuck Gormley of the Courier-Post interviewed Laperriere. The gritty forward explained that he has nerve damage in the back of his eye. Doctors are apparently unable to do anything about it and Laperriere has expressed his unwillingness to undergo surgery. He has been advised to retire.
Lappy says his vision is still alright for the most part (20/20 in the one eye, 20/15 in the other), but that lights and motions around him become blurred. He is well aware that this could cost him on the ice.
“I’m there, but I’m not there,” Lappy told the Courier-Post. “I’ll be 37 in a couple months and you just can’t miss that second. You’re going to get killed.”
Laperriere continues to experience daily headaches regardless of his level of activity. Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren has put Laperriere on injured reserve in the mean time, meaning he’ll miss at least seven games. It is generally assumed that Homer is using this time to get a better grasp on exactly what lies ahead for Lappy.
According to Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News, doctors aren’t sure what exactly is causing these post concussion symptoms. It is either concussions or the nerve damage he has been experiencing in his eye. Both symptoms are a result of an injury he suffered during Game 5 of the Stanley Cup playoffs against the New Jersey Devils. In an attempt to block a shot, something Ian did better than any forward on the team, he was hit in the face with a puck. Laperriere was widely believed to miss the remainder of the playoffs, but thanks to the support of Flyers Nation and his undying determination to help his team he made it back for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
As for now, the future seems uncertain for the veteran. Surely more will be revealed in the coming days, but the prognosis as it stands is bleak.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t think about retirement,” Laperriere told CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio.
Laperriere’s 74 blocked shots last season led all Flyers forwards. He was third on the team in hits (171) behind Dan Carcillo (194) and Darroll Powe (183), and his 162 penalty minutes ranked second on the team only to (you guessed it) Dan Carcillo (207). He also had the greatest time on ice of any of the team’s forwards on the penalty kill (2:32:21).
As far as I see it, Laperriere will be put on long term injury reserve (LTIR).
First, it will save the team some cap space. Essentially the way it works is that the team can replace Laperriere with any player(s) whose cap hit (not including performance bonuses) is less than his $1,166,667 cap hit. In replacing Laperriere, the team will be allowed to exceed the NHL’s upper limit of $59.4 million by the amount of his contract ($1,166,667). [See CBA §50.10(d)(iv), “Prior to Opening Day Illustrations”, “Illustration #2”]
Since Laperriere is in the second of a three-year contract he signed after turning 35, retirement would actually hurt the team financially. According to the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA), Laperriere will be paid no matter what; even if he retires [see CBA §50.5(d)(i)(B)(5)]. Putting him on LTIR saves the team cap space and gets him paid. Everyone wins.
Laperriere was a vital asset to the PK last season. His stats speak for themselves. More important than that, however, are the intangibles. Having played 1,083 games in his NHL career, Lappy is a veteran. The experience that comes along with that―the knowledge of the game, the ability to help young guys develop, and the overwhelming grit and determination to lift a team and its fans to Stanley Cup glory―cannot be read on a stat sheet. Try as he may, head coach Peter Laviolette really cannot fully succeed in filling Lappy’s skates. He was a gift to the city of Philadelphia, and it’s sad to know that in all likelihood he will have only spent one season with us.
Like the saying goes: nothing good ever lasts.
Furthermore, Lappy is, was, and always will be a class act. He has a love for the game that can only be equaled and cannot be exceeded. But more important than that is the fact that he has always put his family and the fans first. He does what he does for all of us. He’s just a lucky guy who gets to do it while doing something he loves. You can’t help but like Ian Laperriere.
“Hey, if this is it, I had a hell of a run,” Laperriere told the Courier-Post. “I played a long time, I played a lot of games and I met a lot of nice people. I had a hell of a career for a guy from where I came from.”
We’ll miss you, Lappy.
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The Flyers’ Salary Cap Picture
I spent a long time last night researching whether or not Leighton was on LTIR. I read conflicting reports. Fortunately for me that was all sorted out today.
Michael Leighton, out with a bulging disc in his back, has been put on LTIR per Tim Panaccio. He’ll be out until at least the 29 October game against the Penguins. This means that the Flyers have an extra $1.55M in which they can go over the $59.4 million salary cap. Remember that Leighton’s replacement cannot be paid more than $1.55 million (excluding bonuses). Luckily for us, the guy we’ve gone with (Bobrovsky) only has a cap hit of $900K without bonuses, a common misconception by Flyers fans who think his cap hit is $1.75M.
As it stands, Laperriere is on injured reserve, meaning he’ll be out at least 7 games. He doesn’t count toward our active roster, but his cap hit is still in effect. Expect this to change.
Throw in Nodl’s $850K cap hit (more on that below) and you’re left with roughly $590K in space. Let’s do the math:
Flyers (without Nodl): -$109,762 in cap space
Andreas Nodl: $850K
Flyers with Nodl: -$959,762
Leighton’s $1.55M in relief added onto the balance of -$959,762 gives the team an overall cap space of $590,238. Questions will abound, however, when/if Michael Leighton returns.
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Opening Night Roster
In other news, the Flyers have released their opening day roster. It consists of the following 22 players (12 forwards, 8 defense, and 2 goalies):
Forwards: Blair Betts, Dany Briere, Dan Carcillo, Jeff Certer, Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Ville Leino, Darroll Powe, Mike Richards, Jody Shelley, James Van Riemsdyk, and Nikolay Zherdev.
Defense: Oscars Bartulis, Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros, Sean O’Donnell, Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, and Matt Walker.
Goalies: Sergei Bobrovsky and Brian Boucher.
Chuck Gormley of the Courier-Post believes the lines will be as follows (per practice):
Carcillo / Richards / Carter
Hartnell / Briere / Leino
JVR / Giroux / Zherdev
Shelley / Betts Powe
Pronger / Carle
Coburn / Timonen
O’Donnell / Meszaros
Bartulis / Walker