Among the fallout from Peter Laviolette's firing was a drastic job change for Ian Laperriere, the former Flyers winger who became a folk hero for the fearless way he played for the club.
Laperriere, 39, has gone from the Flyers' director of player development to behind the bench, where he is one of new coach Craig Berube's assistants.
"Coaching is about teaching, and I know I can relate with those guys because I retired only three years ago," said Laperriere, who played 16 years in the NHL and was the active leader in career penalty minutes (1,956) when he retired, unable to play after 2010 because of post-concussion syndrome. "I'm very excited. It's something I didn't know was going to come."
After Thursday's practice in Voorhees, N.J., Laperriere said the players "need to be in better shape. I don't know if they were, but they will be if they want to play at a high level like we expect."
Berube, who has changed from Laviolette's 1-3-1 to a 1-2-2, said the players "can get in better skating condition. That is going to make you quicker and you can think quicker."
He added that if you "play as a team, it will look faster."
Laperriere said he received a phone call late Sunday from general manager Paul Holmgren, asking if he still wanted to coach, as he had mentioned a few years ago to the GM.
"And the next day, he called me back and said, 'Do you want to be back behind the bench with Chief?' " Laperriere said.
Berube and Holmgren conferred before offering a job to Laperriere. Berube said the guy known as "Lappy" was perfectly suited to "teach our players about commitment, desire and doing the things he did. You can't ask for anybody better."
Laperriere, whose old position has not been filled yet, said he was "more excited and nervous than anything else. Homer (Holmgren) said to just be yourself, and so far it took me pretty far in life just to be myself, and that's the way I'm going to be. I played with a couple of those guys and that's a dangerous thing, but I won't change. If I change, it would be so hypocritical."
Always engaging and honest, Laperriere said he will "work on little details," such as proper positioning, and he will coach the penalty-killing unit. "I made a career doing that, and I'm going to help those guys be better penalty-killers individually and as a team."
Laperriere, who was behind the bench when the Flyers scored a 2-1 win over Florida on Tuesday in the first game of the Berube era, said one of his "projects" was to try to get speedy winger Zac Rinaldo on one of the penalty-killing units.
Someone asked Laperriere if he and Berube would be a good- cop, bad-cop duo.
"Good-cop, bad-cop doesn't work anymore," he said, smiling. "It's not 1970 and they get scared of guys. You won't scare them. You just need to find the right button to get them going, and they're all different. Everybody's got a different way to get them going. That's our job: to find a way and make sure they're happy coming to the rink every day and coming to work. They're going to work."
Having overseen the Flyers' developmental camps, Laperriere is invaluable because he has in-depth knowledge of the organization's prospects. He said he will take what he has learned from some of his coaches -- he mentioned Andy Murray, Larry Robinson and Laviolette -- and teammates and hand that down to his players.
Asked if he had aspirations of being a head coach some day, Laperriere hesitated and then said, "Probably yes, but I like my first four days with this. Ask me that question in a couple years."
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