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Fans, Teammates Honor Laperriere

April 03, 2001|HELENE ELLIOTT

No matter the circumstances, Ian Laperriere plays with passion. He's not as talented as the premier centers he plays against, but he never gives an inch.

Where does he find the energy?

"More coffee," he said.

Laperriere's emotion isn't caffeine-driven. He knows he's lucky to be in the NHL and will do what it takes to stay there. This season, that means fighting less and learning more from veterans Nelson Emerson and Kelly Buchberger on the Kings' third line.

"He's become more than just an energy player on this team," Coach Andy Murray said. "I think he's playing a lot smarter than he ever has."

Laperriere's teammates rewarded him by voting him their most inspirational player. The Kings Booster Club voted him the team's most popular player. Laperriere appreciates the recognition.

"I love to play," he said. "It's the greatest job in the world, and I've been doing it for a couple of years professionally. I always find ways to motivate myself.

"When the fans pick me as a favorite, that means something to me. I play for my teammates, but we also have to entertain. I'm not as skilled as some of my teammates, but maybe the fans like the way I play."


The NHL refused to rescind the instigator penalty given to left wing Stu Grimson on Saturday and he began serving a two-game suspension Monday.


Other awards voted by the media: Luc Robitaille, most valuable player; Lubomir Visnovsky, best newcomer; Mattias Norstrom, best defenseman and best defensive player. Players voted Jaroslav Modry the unsung hero, and the Kings Care foundation gave its community service award to Grimson and Buchberger.


at Phoenix

7:30, Fox Sports Net

* Site--America West Arena.

* Radio--KSPN (1110).

* Records--Kings 36-28-12-2, Coyotes 34-26-16-3.

* Record vs. Coyotes--1-2-1.

* Update--This begins a season-ending three-game trip. It's also the second game in a back-to-back sequence: the Kings were 4-5-1 in the second game of their previous back-to-back sequences. New Coyote co-owner Wayne Gretzky is finding management challenging. His team is 3-4-2-1 in its last 10 games and in danger of falling out of a Western Conference playoff spot. Goalie Sean Burke will get some votes for most valuable player because of his 25-21-12-4 record, 2.28 goals-against average and .922 save percentage.

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