LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Ian Laperriere, a defenseman for the Los Angeles Kings from 1996-2004, will be honored by the team in a ceremony before Saturday’s game at Staples Center against the Colorado Avalanche.
Acquired in a seven-player trade with the New York Rangers, Laperriere was voted three times each as the Kings’ best defensive player, most popular player and most inspirational player.
“He was the heart and soul of our team,” Luc Robitaille, the Kings’ president of business operations and a teammate of Laperriere for five seasons with the Kings, told Fox Sports West.
“When you play with a guy like Ian Laperriere every day, you know you’re going to get the best out of him.”
Laperriere left the Kings following the 2003-2004 season, signing with the Avalanche, who he played with for four seasons.
Laperriere played with the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2009-2010 season, which proved to be his last because of post-concussion syndrome and nerve damage to his eyes from being hit in the face twice with pucks during that season.
“He really sacrificed his body,” Mattias Norstrom, who was traded by the Rangers with Laperriere and played with him for all nine seasons he was with the Kings, told Fox Sports West.
“I think he’s still paying for it. That’s the price he was prepared to pay to play in the best league in the world and become the player he was.”
Laperriere was named as the Flyers’ director of player development on June 29, 17 days after announcing his retirement as a player.
Saturday’s game is the first of an abbreviated two-game Kings Legends Night Series during the lockout-shortened season, when the team will wear its vintage purple and gold jerseys.
The other game during the series will be on March 9, when Kelly Hrudey, a goaltender with the Kings from 1989-96, will be honored.
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