|Anaheim forward Corey Perry relishes the role he has on the Ducks as a big-time agitator, and has already set career highs in scoring this season.
Corey Perry video highlights
Perry can't put a finger on an exact moment when he began to earn his hostile reputation. He does, however, know that it has given him an identity.
"I just kept playing hard and wanted to keep progressing,'' Perry told NHL.com. "There's always a time when you say to yourself, 'You have to play this way since it's working for you,' and for me, that meant taking the role as an agitator. It's how I stay involved in the game.''
There's more to Perry's game than just agitating, though. He's developed into a pretty good scorer, as well.
After collecting 44 points (17 goals) in 82 regular-season games last season, Perry struck for 15 points (six goals) in Anaheim's 21-game march to its first Stanley Cup last spring. He has taken his game to greater heights this campaign, registering career-highs in goals (a team-best 28) and points (52) through 67 games, and leads the team with 10 power-play goals while logging more than 18 minutes a game.
He's done most of his damage riding shotgun with center Ryan Getzlaf.
The pair has been linked since being selected together in the first round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, when Getzlaf was taken No. 19 by the Ducks and Perry was selected nine picks later. The two were linemates in 2004-05 with Portland, the Ducks' American Hockey League affiliate, and have remained together in the NHL.
This season, they were named to their first Western Conference All-Star team together.
"We have similar games but are different in certain ways and our styles complement each other,'' Getzlaf said. "I believe our time together as teammates in Portland really brought us closer together and got that confidence going. We've been very productive since that time and we've really taken off as linemates.''
Dustin Penner completed the threesome in Portland and last season in Anaheim. He signed as a free agent in Edmonton this past summer, but he's kept an eye on his former linemate.
"I'm noticing that Corey is getting back to the way he played in the AHL in the type of goals he is scoring,'' said Penner. "There are goal-scorers goals and greasy goals and Corey is the one who'll get those greasy goals. I watch video replay and ask myself, 'How does he do that?' If only I could have a few of those. He definitely has a nose for the net.''
Perry also knows other ways to get through traffic.
Last August, on his day with the Stanley Cup, Perry's chartered bus of family, friends and the Cup was en route to London, Ontario, when a traffic jam brought the caravan to a dead halt. The congestion turned a three-hour trip into a five-hour trek, but Perry had the answer.
He quickly grabbed hockey's Holy Grail, exited the bus onto the jammed highway and lofted his prized possession over his head to the delight of the once-agitated motorists. Chalk another one up for the kid from Peterborough.
"Everyone was honking their horns and jumping over cars to get a look,'' Perry recalled. "It was an experience I'll never forget.''
Staying in Anaheim is something Perry would like to do long-term, but he will be a restricted free agent this summer.
"I love being in Anaheim and I would like nothing more than to be here the rest of my career,'' Perry said. "There hasn't been much talking by either side yet, but I'm not really worried about it right now. I'm concentrating on playing my game and helping the team win.''
Contact Mike Morreale at firstname.lastname@example.org.