Darryl Laplante, 58th overall selection in 1995 by Detroit, posted the NHL’s fastest time in the skating portion of the skills competition. He edged out Red Wing forward Sergei Fedorov (13.670 ) and Carolina’s Sami Kapanen (13.716 ) with a time of 13.597. Laplante was one of the last Red Wings to skate and wowed the crowds by edging out 1994 champion Sergei Fedorov who jokingly claimed a clock error and challenged Laplante to a rematch.
The youngster from Calgary gave credit to his mother who forced him to take figure skating lesson from ages 5-12, something that Laplante was a bit shy about admitting. Laplante also turned in a great showing in the agility competition but was finally edged out by Detroit captain Steve Yzerman who gave the rookie a hug following the closely contested skate through the cones.
Laplante was Detroit’s final cut following training camp this fall and was assigned Cincinnati of the AHL. There, Darryl lead the team in goal scoring and following a plethora Detroit injuries, was recalled by the Red Wings in November.
At first, Laplante was used only as a fill in averaging about three minutes a game. Soon however, he earned himself more and more ice time on the Detroit’s checking lines. Most recently the line of Laplante ( #21 ), Yuri Butsayev ( #22) and Stacey Roest ( #23) have been very effective for the Red Wings with some referring to them as the roaring 20’s. The all rookie combination is made up of three former centermen that show heart, desire and compete on every shift. A must when playing for Scotty Bowman.
Thus far this season, Laplante has 5 assists in 20 games and is a minus 3. He continues to work on all aspects of the game. Assistant General Manager Jim Nill stated that Laplante was a great skater during an interview this summer but needed to work on other aspects of his game. Nill said, ” Darryl’s skating will no longer carry him at this level ( in the NHL ) “. Laplante’s performance in the skill competition shows both strength and weakness believe it or not re-enforcing Nill’s statement.
While Laplante has great straight away speed, he loses far too much of it when he is forced to move side to side or carry the puck. He is not as strong on his feet as other elite skaters in the game and can sometimes be knocked down too easily. Darryl will likely be returned to Cincinnati when Detroit begins getting their regular personal back in the lineup. However, the youngster will be ready to make a run at a full time position in the NHL next season.