Just when it seems like the Flyers couldn’t get tougher, General Manager Paul Holmgren finds a way. Days after trading notorious party boy Joffrey Lupul to Anaheim, in exchange for one of the dirtiest players in the league, Chris Pronger, the Flyers struck again. Holmgren snagged respected tough guy Ian Laperriere from the free agent line, giving the Flyers yet another gritty forward to add to the ever-growing repertoire of “character” players that are willing to drop the gloves.
And while most teams in the league ignore the Flyers redundant acquisitions, the rest of the Atlantic Division reacted by preparing itself for war.
When asked if newly acquired free agent tough guy Mike Rupp was replacing Eric Godard as Pittsburgh’s enforcer, Godard’s agent made it clear he wasn’t, while also giving an incite into the minds of divisional GMs.
“The Flyers are loading up,” said Michael Wulkan. “Pittsburgh won’t go with just Mike Rupp.”
Relatively strapped by the cap, the Penguins made it a point to start off their free-agent period by picking up 6-foot-5 Rupp, from the free agent wire. Rupp tallied 136 penalty minutes last season with the New Jersey Devils, plenty of which came against the Flyers.
The Rangers are in the same boat. After losing Colton Orr to free agency, New York targeted the most fearsome brawler on the market in Donald Brashear. Rangers’ fans have yet to forgive Brashear for ruthlessly shattering Blair Betts’ orbital bone in the playoffs last season. But according to one Rangers’ blog, Blue Shirt Banter, Brashear was brought in to counteract the toughness of Pronger in the division, while helping to protect Marian Gaborik.
“I know most of you aren’t thrilled with this, can’t say I am either, but they need a tough guy with Pronger around,” the blog stated. “It’s not like Brashear is going to get a whole lot of ice time anyway.”