He was like so many other French-Canadian kids from Montreal. Ian Laperriere could shoot. He could skate. He could create--if without real artistry, certainly with effect.
But unlike so many others, he was willing to sacrifice his body. He had goals and assists, but also penalty minutes in three figures annually, and so he was called a defensive center.
"I've always thought I could do more for the club offensively," Laperriere said. "You get this reputation. I guess I got it in St. Louis [where he had three goals, six assists and 87 penalty minutes in 33 games in 1995-96] and New York [where he had a goal, two assists and 53 penalty minutes in 28 games after being traded to the Rangers]. But I always thought I could do more than just be physical."
And now he gets a chance to shoot down that reputation.
When the Kings skate against the Stars today in Dallas, Laperriere will be on a line with wingers Luc Robitaille and Glen Murray, replacing Jozef Stumpel, who is sidelined because of a knee injury.
"I know that my job is to play good defense, but I also know that I will have [scoring] chances with them," Laperriere said.
Laperriere's goal March 9 beat Detroit, and he also had one March 28 at Colorado. But his season aggregate, three goals, eight assists, 134 penalty minutes in 67 games, is testimony to why the Kings got him in a trade from New York in 1996, and why he is in the NHL.
"I do anything the club asks me to do," said Laperriere, and that helps explain why, at 25, he has broken his nose six times.
Now the club asks him to score, or facilitate the scoring of Robitaille and Murray.
at Dallas, noon
* Site--Reunion Arena.
* Radio--KRLA (1110).
* Records--Kings 29-43-5, Stars 49-17-12.
* Record vs. Stars--0-5.
* Update--Before the game, Dallas will be awarded the Presidents' Trophy for the second successive season, after a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers Friday night assured the Stars of the league's best record. Their 110 points is a team mark by one, and their 27 home-ice wins also is a franchise mark. Ten of those points have come against the Kings, the five wins each coming by one goal. The Kings are 0-10-6 in their last 16 games against Dallas and will not have team captain Rob Blake today because he is serving the first of a two-game suspension for a cross-check of San Jose's Alex Korolyuk Thursday night.