Today: May 22 , 2019

Dan Laperriere: Age Is Just a Number

20 March 2008  
"I'm actually the oldest on the team, and the oldest player in the league. Which is a status that I'm proud to have. Age is a number, and the flame is still burning, so to speak, so that's why I keep on playing."

 

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Dan Laperriere, photo by Matt Santos.
Dan Laperriere, #6, was one of the first players drafted by the Arizona Sundogs in 2006. During that inaugural season, Laperriere had 57 points (11 goals and 48 assists) in just 60 games; the most productive season in his career, ranking him 5th in defense in the Central Hockey League, according to Wikipedia. (By the way, having a web page in Wikipedia is quite an accomplishment in itself!)

 

That's pretty remarkable by any standards, but perhaps even more so considering that Laperriere is not only the oldest player on the Sundogs team, but he's the oldest player in the entire CHL.

As Laperriere reflected on playing hockey in Prescott Valley, and what that means to him in this point in his career, it was obvious that above all else, he's still having a lot of fun at the rink.

"I started skating at 3 years old. I played organized hockey since I was 5 years old, so that's a long time," Laperriere said. Coming up on his 39th birthday (that's next Friday, folks!), he takes a bit of teasing in the clubhouse. "Thank the guys, they always remind me that I'm not the youngest anymore. No, I'm actually the oldest on the team, and the oldest player in the league. Which is a status that I'm proud to have. Age is a number, and the flame is still burning, so to speak, so that's why I keep on playing."

Laperriere did note, however, that fellow teammate Chris Bartolone (birthdate: 1/24/70) is also one of the senior players on the team, "I still have a couple of months on him at least, so I have that title right now."

Laperriere has had a wonderfully diverse career, playing both in the National Hockey League and in Europe (view his career stats here). He spoke of where his skates have taken him, "I grew up playing, and obviously went to school at the same time. I went to college in upstate New York, St. Lawrence University. I graduated with an economics degree and played all four years over there and got drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the NHL. From there, after college, I graduated in 1992. I turned pro from then on, and I played in different leagues, and in the minors. I played 48 NHL games with St. Louis and Ottawa Senators of the NHL. Then I went to Europe for six years in Germany, in the top league over there, and two years in Switzerland and then I came back here, and I've had two awesome seasons, so far with the Sundogs."

One of the highlights of his career was in 'meeting' Wayne Gretsky on the ice. When asked if he had ever met Gretsky, Laperriere responded, "Personally no, but I played against him. The few games that I was fortunate to play in the NHL, I played one against him in LA when he was there. Obviously, at the time, he was the best in the world, so every time you skate against him, on the ice, on the same ice as him, it was special. Everything was so easy for him to do on the ice, so it was amazing just to be there, taking part of this with him. That's special."

So, how did Laperriere feel when he was drafted by the Sundogs? "For sure, when the call came, I was excited about it, a new experience, you know, playing hockey in the desert sometimes is not that obvious, but so far so good."

One of the reasons that Laperriere was sought by the team was to be a mentor to the other players. He explained what that means, "Yes, that was the deal that Marko, our coach, explained to me at first. He said, 'I need you to be a leader.' He needs me to guide the guys on and off the ice, because we're professionals, and some guys are just coming out of college or juniors, so my life experience, so to speak, on and off the ice... I gotta be there for the guys so I try to guide them in this certain way. Obviously in the locker room, you know, certain situations that I lived in the past, I can relate to how to deal with certain situations, and I think the guys are very responsive to that. Which makes it a lot easier for me to approach guys and you know, give them tips here and there. It's been a good relationship between Marco, the players and myself, and I'm loving every minute of it."

While many of his teammates are strictly focused on getting to the next level, it's very evident that Laperriere plays because that's where his heart is. "Obviously, the flame is still burning, I'm still healthy, so that's why I keep playing. The love of the game has a lot to do with it. I love going to the rink and hanging out with the guys and putting on the equipment and practicing playing and all that good stuff that comes with it. As far as trying to make a living here in the CHL... uh... at this stage in my career, it's not money that drives me right now. So, all this is to say that I've been playing hockey all my life, so my economics degree, it's nice to have, but I don't think I'm going to be using it anytime soon. I'm not saying that I'm going to keep on playing for 5 or 6 more years, but I think my future's in hockey and I'll try to ride the wave as much as I can."

One of the things that Laperriere enjoys is the chance to interact with the crowd. "I'm single, no wife, no kids. That's why when we just had (after the last game), skate with the fans, and I grabbed a couple of children that are not too good at skating, and haven't been on the ice, pretty much, so I just take them around and try to have fun, pretty much. I make up the time there."

Not only does Laperriere enjoy the fans, he appreciates them immensely. "I think the relationship between us, the Sundogs family, if you want, and the fans has been tremendous since day one. I still remember the first game we played here was a sellout. The score of the game was not what we wanted, but they supported us until the last second of the game, and they were as loud as if we would have won the game. It's special, every time we put on the skates here, it's like, obviously we want to win the games and such, but everyone comes and they support their Sundogs, but we want to win the games all the home games, but it's been just incredible. The support - they're loud, they're behind us, they're pulling on the same rope as us. I think that since the beginning, the togetherness has been very, very nice."

And, what does the future hold? "Playoffs are approaching, obviously everyone is excited, I think the buzz is catching on more and more in town - we feel it. Without burning any bridges, it's step by step, but I think the best is yet to come. If they [the fans] can make a difference in winning a game, I'm sure they're going to do it by being loud and coming to the games and supporting us and stuff. The best is yet to come."

Editor's note: Laperriere is listed on the Legends of Hockey website. You might want to check out a couple of early photos which can be found there.

Photo Gallery:

To view a larger photo, please click on a thumbnail below. All photos by Matt Santos .  

 

Lynne LaMaster

Lynne LaMaster is the Founder and Editor of the eNewsAZ Network of websites. She asks a lot of questions! In her spare time, she loves photography, cooking and hanging out with her family.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/eNewsAZ/