For the love of Ian Laperriere

Karen Ellis is the ultimate Ian Laperriere fan. She has been following him since his days in Los Angeles and has traveled to locations such as Colorado, Philadelphia, and Boston (Winter Classic) to see him play. Karen runs the site It’s All About Lappy which, as you might guess, is all about Laperriere. You can also follow her on Twitter. She took some time to answer some questions about Lappy, the site, and her charitable work with Ronald McDonald House.

How did It’s All About Lappy get started? Give us a little history on the site.

It actually started with my very first It’s All About Lappy shirt back in 2004. Ian was my favorite player on our hometown Los Angeles Kings, and I thought it would be fun to have a shirt made in his honor. I started looking around at some of the custom shirt websites, and found an option that said “It’s All About (insert name here)” which I thought was pretty original.

It was after I ordered the shirt that I decided to make a little webpage and I named it after the slogan on the shirt. It started off as one of those free websites with a bunch of ads, and it was basically my own personal online scrapbook of photos and articles I’d collected about him. I had no web design experience, so it was pretty simple.

I continued to add to the website over the years, and in 2006 we moved to the domain. Currently we have over 450 individual pages on the website.

What drew you to Ian Laperriere? What do you think makes him such a likable person?

What initially impressed me was his work ethic on the ice and his dynamic personality. I admired him for his love of the sport and how he conveyed that passion in every aspect of his game. From the joy on his face as he celebrated a goal, to the spark he brought as he stood up for a teammate in a fight, his enthusiasm was contagious.

As I learned more about the man off the ice, my admiration of him as an athlete developed into an admiration of him as a person as well. It was clear that the heart he brought to the rink everyday also carried over into how he values other people. He appreciates what he’s been given and he doesn’t take anything for granted. He loves life and shares that joy with everyone he meets. He brings smiles wherever he goes.

How did he find out about your site? How did the two of you get connected?

Back in 2004, I wrote down the link to the old version of the website in a card I had given him congratulating him on the birth of his youngest son. But after that, I had no idea if he had ever visited the site or not.

A short time later he signed with the Colorado Avalanche, and because of the lock-out, we didn’t see him again until we made a trip out to Denver in March 2006. He recognized me in the stands at the practice rink, came off the ice, and had the security guy bring me down to talk to him. He gave me a big hug and said the website was great. I was completely shocked that he knew who I was, because we’d only met a couple times before that back in L.A., and I was even more shocked that he had been to the website and knew that I was the person who put it together.

As the shirt project got started and continued to grow over the years, we got to know each other better. Today I feel privileged to be able to call him a friend, which is something I never expected.

Tell us a little bit about the shirt project. Are you working on any other charitable ventures?

Even though Ian was no longer with the Kings after the lock-out, I continued to wear the original Lappy shirt with pride to games in Los Angeles and Anaheim when the Avalanche came to town.

During one game, unbeknownst to me, my shirt was shown on the television broadcast in Colorado. I immediately began to receive inquiries about the shirt from other fans who recognized me as the girl with the Ian Laperriere website. As requests continued to come in, I decided to make the shirts available online. In the spirit of Ian’s charitable efforts, I felt it would be appropriate to donate the proceeds from the shirt sales to the organization of his choice. At the time, I had no way to get in touch with him, so some fans in Denver spoke to him after practice one day on my behalf. He selected Ronald McDonald House Charities to be the recipient of our proceeds.

The first batch was done in time for the last home game of the 2005-06 season. We brought about 20 shirts with us to Denver for that last game, and we got a great reaction during warm-ups.

Since then we’ve raised over $15,500 for the Ronald McDonald Houses in Southern New Jersey, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Denver and Aurora, CO with the shirt project, our Ronald McDonald House Walk For Kids teams, matching donations, and our other fundraising activities. To date, over 1000 shirts and sweatshirts have been sold to fans in 41 states in the USA, 4 provinces in Canada and 11 countries around the world.

Have you talked to Lappy recently? How is he doing?

My husband and I actually just got back from a trip to Philadelphia this past weekend, and Lappy was nice enough to set aside some time to see us. Right now he’s doing whatever he can to try to get better and feel like himself again.

What was going through your head when he was hit with a puck the first time? The second time?

The first time he was hit with the puck, I was definitely shaken up. I immediately thought of his wife and kids, who were likely to be in attendance as it was a home game. I was relieved when he returned in the third period, but I was not overly surprised since he is such a warrior.

When he was hit the second time, I was still at work since I live out on the West Coast. I received the news via Twitter on my phone since that was my only access to the game. I was definitely in a panic, and desperate to find out what happened, and how he was doing. I wasn’t able to get all the details until I got home later that night. I felt a little better when I checked in with him the next morning to see how he was feeling.

Do you think he’ll make a recovery or are you worried that his career might be over?

It’s hard to guess what will happen next for him. I know he loves the game, but I know he loves his family even more, so that will play a huge role in his decision once he’s feeling better.

Were you surprised at all when he admitted that he was still feeling injury symptoms this summer after he said he was OK to return to the playoffs last season?

I was definitely somewhat surprised to hear the news. But with an injury like his, I think I was more surprised that he was able to return for the playoffs in the first place, than I was to hear that he was still dealing with the symptoms today.

How will the site change if he leaves hockey?

We have no plans to take the site down anytime soon. I guess the only change would be that our updates would be less frequent if he were no longer playing. We’ll keep selling the shirts and other items for Ronald McDonald House as long as there is interest from his fans. And as my mom wrote to him recently, “It Will Always Be All About Lappy” for us.