Friday, March 2, 2012

Ian Laperriere on Wayne Simmonds and hurt feelings

In pro wrestling terms it was a classic heel turn. The babyface (good guy) loved by millions, says something ever so casual - yet instantly turns off his longtime admirers.

This one is going to be pretty simple to follow...

And with those few little sentences, Wayne Simmonds turned from a guy who was universally loved by hockey fans in LA into public enemy number one back in December.

Having played in both cities himself, when I spoke with Ian Laperriere a few days ago, I asked him for his take on the situation...

"I know exactly what he means by that," Lappy began. "The Kings do have their core fans. I have a lot of respect for them. But, the thing is, LA is such a big town. Philly is a lot smaller and all of the four (major) sports (venues) are pretty much in the same area. It's different, it's totally different. Both teams have great fans. I didn't talk to Wayne about it and it went under the radar here in Philly, nobody really talked about it. But, I know for a fact that he didn't mean to hurt anybody's feelings. He just meant that in Philly - like we have tailgating every game, it doesn't matter what sport, they're hardcore fans. In LA it's such a wide town, people are so spread out, it's tough to have that identity there."

Lappy's right on this one. LA loves winners. When the Lakers are winning, this is their town. When the Dodgers are winning, this is their town. In 1993 when the Kings went to the Stanley Cup Finals, this was their town.

On a nightly basis, season after season though, the Kings don't 'own' LA with the same fervor the Flyers do in Philly.

Here's a good litmus test you can use to determine if you live in a good hockey town. And this applies to any NHL city. Walk into the local bar on a Saturday night and see if they have the game on (featuring your hometown team). If they don't, you're not off to a good start. When you request they turn it on, if they ask you what channel it's closed.

Some day in the future, the Kings will make a deep playoff run again. Many will be surprised how much of a hockey town LA can be. Until then, the team isn't getting top billing on most nights - even with a packed house for every game.

So, back to Simmonds. What's Lappy's take on the season he's having, including already netting a career-high 22 goals?

"Wayne's been playing unbelievable. It's nothing flashy. He does his dirty work, but he puts the puck in the net. He's physical, he's tough and he made a name for himself right away by fighting a couple of the big boys in the East. He did really well, so he's made a lot of room for himself on the ice."

Now, go back and watch the video again. He wasn't calling out Kings fans for being inferior to Flyers fans. He simply said Philly is a great hockey town.

Guess what? It is.

The Mayor


Flyers Ian Laperriere on the newest King, Jeff Carter

Mike Richards for Simmonds and Schenn - the trade revisited

Stoll and Martinez talk about the Kings trading Wayne Simmonds

LA players on Simmonds, Flyers and a possible scrap for Clifford

Ian Lapperiere previews tonight's LA Kings - Flyers game

Morning Skate:  Wayne Simmonds talks about tonight's match-up with the Kings

Interview with former Kings tough guy (and Flyers legend) Dave 'the Hammer' Schultz


  1. I walked into a bar near my office on Tuesday to catch the first period of the Kings game vs. the Wild. The game was not on, so I asked if they could put the game on. The bartender asked 2 guys that were sitting at the bar watching the Celtics/Cavs basketball game if they would mind if he changed the game. They gave me a look like "Who the hell are the Kings?" At least there was another TV in the bar that the bartender put the game on...

    1. Haha! Whenever I go into a bar to watch the hockey game, they always ALWAYS stick me on the worst TV (usually not HD) in the bar, and I feel like the bar loser sitting in my corner watching a hockey game by myself instead of with the rest of the blokes there at the bar.

      Sometimes it sucks being a Kings fan...

    2. That is a bummer man.. In Philly, the only way the Flyers aren't on is if the Phillies are on (or if it is Sunday during Football season, but atleast one TV will have Flyers). I prefer hockey, but Baseball is much bigger.

  2. It's lovely that Simmonds has been able to fit into a hockey city with a longstanding tradition and culture so that he can thrive. Here in LA, we need special players with the skill and the will to build that tradition and culture, players who can live up to the challenge of accomplishing what the best player to ever play the game couldn't do: bring the cup to LA. Sorry you weren't up to the challenge, Simmonds. PS FU.

    1. He was TRADED away guy...

    2. I Don't hate him for being traded - hate what he said. I get tired of players coming to LA and talking about how it's not a hockey city but at least the weather is nice. LA is an opportunity for a hockey player. Think about it. You win the cup in Detroit and your name goes in a long list of Detroit players to win the cup. And the team had a decent shot of winning the cup before you ever got there anyway. In LA, you may not be the kind of player who is ever going to hold scoring records, but you still have a chance to make history, to do what no one has ever done before. It's not a culture of winning that you fit in to, it's a culture that you built. For anyone with a true competitor's spirit, that is an opportunity of a lifetime. That is what I love about Brown. When you hear him talk about his dream, it's not just winning the cup - it's being the first to lift it in LA. He gets it.

    3. Hey, some players want to play for hockey towns like Detroit, [insert random canadian city here], Philly, Boston, etc.. and some players enjoy the small markets like Tampa, Nashville, Dallas... It isn't a rip on any team. Some players want the sell outs and loud fans to pump them up, where others don't need it. Look at Richards for instance.. I think he'd prefer to be in LA to Philly.. he has ripped the media constantly, but the fans LOVED him. LA doesn't have the support Philly gets, but Richie and Carts both prob prefer to be there where they can play hockey and live under the radar but still have decent support from some great fans.

  3. When we first moved out here to Denver from LA we went to a Chili's to eat and went to the bar area as it was the Stanley Cup playoffs 2nd round. The games weren't on and when I asked if they could change to the channel they asked what channel would it be?

    Such bandwagoners out here!

  4. Wayne is right. Until the Kings win a cup, and then win consistently there after, hockey will continue to be 7th or 8th on the So Cal sports pecking order. They recently moved down yet another notch with the completely improbable/incomprehensible increase in relevance of the (gasp) Clippers. That said... Wayne better not screw up, or the Philly fans might mistake him for Santa Ckaus and start lobbing snowballs at him.