It’s been almost eight months since Flyer Ian Laperriere took a slapshot to the face against the New Jersey Devils in the first round of the playoffs. He returned later in the series, but revealed at the beginning of this season that he was still experiencing post-concussion symptoms. The Flyers have been optimistic that he could return to the line-up, especially considering that Boston Bruin forward Marc Savard had similar issues after taking a hit from Pittsburgh Penguin Matt Cooke last season and has now returned to their line-up.
With little to no news since September on Lappy’s progress, his placement on the long-term injury reserve is another nail in the coffin of his career. In his one year in Philadelphia, he has easily become a fan favorite and certainly one of the most respected figures in hockey, let alone Flyers fandom. If he is far from returning, placing Laperriere on LTIR is an easy, short-term decision on what to do with goaltender Michael Leighton, who will be re-joining the team tomorrow.
Lappy’s placement does not solve the long-term salary cap issue, but it buys the Flyers time to come back under the cap at some point in the months ahead. Whether that is through trading or waiving one of their three goaltenders, Nikolay Zherdev (according to CSNPhilly, they’ve already tried and have been unsuccessful), or defensemen Matt Walker or Oskars Bartulis, another tough decision will have to be made.
Speaking of Walker, I joked in one of my last posts that “barring any bizarre turn of events or injuries over the rest of this weekend, the Flyers goaltending picture will get a little bit clearer on Monday.” Walker, who had started the weekend on a conditioning stint with the Adirondack Phantoms two weeks earlier than he was expected to be, has apparently re-injured his hip, according to CSNPhilly. Placing Walker, who has never played a single regular season game with the Flyers, on LTIR over Laperriere would have also saved the team salary cap space.
It remains to be seen who will be starting in net tomorrow night, but I highly doubt coach Peter Laviolette will start Leighton against the Penguins. Then again, I didn’t expect goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to start the season against the Penguins, so who knows.
**UPDATE: Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly is reporting that Matt Walker has now injured his OTHER hip. He previously injured his right hip, but has now injured his left. Ugh…