Ian Laperriere was known as a fiery competitor in his hockey playing days and now the Flyers are hoping he can bring that same energy to their top minor league affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Laperriere was named new head coach of the Allentown-based American Hockey League team on Sunday.
The 47-year-old Laperriere, who spent one season with the Flyers as a player and eight more as an assistant coach, becomes the 11th coach in Phantoms’ franchise history. He replaces Scott Gordon, who parted ways with the Flyers following this past season.
Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher alluded to Laperriere’s positive traits in making the announcement.
“We’re very happy to have Ian serve as the next head coach of the Phantoms,” said Fletcher. “He has been an extremely dedicated individual to the Flyers organization and has shown a strong work ethic as a player, development coach and an assistant over the years for us.
“We are excited to have him at the forefront of developing our prospects, preparing them to reach the NHL and bringing success to Lehigh Valley.”
Phantoms co-owners Rob and Jim Brooks sounded equally enthusiastic with Laperriere’s hiring.
“Rob and I are thrilled to welcome Ian Laperriere as our new head coach,” Jim Brooks said. “Lappy is the ultimate team player. He has extensive experience with the organization as a player and coach, and brings a positive enthusiasm that we believe will propel our players to higher standards on and off the ice in their development and quest to win the AHL’s Calder Cup.
“Ian carries a strong commitment to the community and we look forward to having him represent the Phantoms/Flyers organization and Lehigh Valley community as a leader.”
Laperriere also served one season as the Flyers’ director of player development, so he knows just about every aspect of working with young players’ progress.
“I’m very excited for this next challenge in my career and I would like to thank Chuck Fletcher as well as Jim and Rob Brooks for this opportunity,” said Laperriere. “The Phantoms are a first-class organization in the AHL and the fan base in Lehigh Valley are the very best at showing their support at every game. I look forward to developing the players in our system, helping the Flyers reach their goals by continuing the success of the Phantoms and building towards winning a Calder Cup Championship.”
Laperriere signed with the Flyers as a free agent prior to the 2009-10 season and appeared in all 82 games recording 20 points (three goals, 20 points) and helped the team reach the Stanley Cup Final that season, appearing in 13 games during the playoffs.
He has appeared in 1,083 regular season games over 16 NHL seasons where he posted 121 goals and 215 assists for 336 points and 1,956 penalty minutes with the St. Louis Blues (1993-96), New York Rangers (1995-96), Los Angeles Kings (1995-04), Colorado Avalanche (2005-09) and Flyers (2009-10). He appeared in his 1,000th NHL game on April 11, 2009 vs. Vancouver Canucks as a member of the Avalanche.
Laperriere missed the entire 2010-11 season due to a concussion suffered in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at New Jersey. After staying active with the organization, Laperriere won the NHL’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for his perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey in 2011 and became the third Flyers player in history to win the award.
He officially announced his retirement as a player on June 12, 2012.