The on-rushing gunner has cranked up a warp-speed slap shot and the puck, a frozen rubber bullet, is zeroed in and dead on, with nothing but ice between it and the goal. So Ian Laperriere, a right winger whose specialty is killing off penalties, follows his instincts without a second thought: He drops and offers up his body as a sacrifice.
He blocks the puck . . .
. . . with his mouth.
Winning Lord Stanley’s Cup takes a special kind of dedication, a peculiar willingness (that is not so peculiar amongst the men who don NHL uniforms) to suffer and bleed for the team, for the prize, for the Cup. Bill Lyon, in one of his rare returns to print, captures this willingness in the person of Ian Laperriere, a grinder, a role player for the Flyers, who only made the playoffs on the last day of the season, in overtime.
What awaits the Flyers now? Elimination, if you believe the popular sentiment.
But do not be so quick to dismiss lightly a team that has a man willing to catch frozen rubber bullets. With his face.
Like Bill Lyon, the Flyers hold a special place in the hearts of Philadelphians, both native and expatriate like myself. It’s good to see them both working their trade in May.