Ian Laperriere has not played a single game for the Flyers this season, yet he might be the only one to win an individual award at the NHL's annual awards show in Las Vegas on June 22.
Laperriere, 37, has been named a finalist - with former Flyers Ray Emery and Daymond Langkow - for the 2011 Bill Masterton Trophy, which is awarded "to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."
Laperriere has missed the entire season due to postconcussion symptoms and eye problems stemming from a shot he blocked with his face last April in the Flyers' first-round playoff series against New Jersey. He has taken more of a mentoring role with some of the Flyers' younger players this season.
"It's loving your sport, being good on and off the ice," Laperriere said yesterday. "I have a job to do on the ice, but when I come off the ice . . . I try to be as normal a person as I can be.
"I think I'm a pretty normal dude who had a chance to play a pretty special sport, having a pretty special life."
Emery, who spent last season with the Flyers, underwent a complex bone graft surgery last April that threatened his career. After nearly 6 months off the ice, Emery rehabbed and signed with Anaheim, where he was 7-2-0 with a 2.28 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in the regular season.
Langkow, who spent three full seasons with the Flyers, suffered a serious neck injury on March 21, 2010, when a puck fractured a vertebrae, causing him to miss more than a full calendar year of action with Calgary.
Each chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association nominated a player for the Masterton award, with the exception of the New York Rangers. The number of candidates was whittled down from 29 to three.
"Everywhere I go, people are nice enough to come up to me and thank me for taking two pucks to the face," Laperriere said. "I wish I could have signed here 10 years ago. This has been a tough year, just watching . . . as long as I have skates on and teammates around me, that's the best place I could be."
Fittingly for the Flyers last night, their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with Buffalo ended with the same two goaltenders that started it back on April 14. Sergei Bobrovsky was reinstalled in the Flyers' lineup for last night's Game 7 as Brian Boucher's backup, his first game in uniform since Game 2.
Michael Leighton did not take part in the Flyers' morning skate yesterday and has reportedly been demoted to the fourth-string goaltender behind the Phantoms' Johan Backlund.