By Kyle Shohara
Beloved by Ducks fans but despised by pretty much everyone else, Corey Perry, Anaheim’s longtime sniper and agitator, completed another regular season campaign in which he scored 30 or more goals.
Believe it or not, the 2014-15 season marked a decade of NHL experience for the 30-year-old – and recently married – native of Peterborough, Ontario. After being chosen by Anaheim with the 28th overall selection in the high-yielding 2003 NHL Draft, Perry got a taste of professional hockey, skating in three Calder Cup Playoff games for the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks in 2004. Perry returned to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League for the 2004-05 season (his final season with the club), and posted a career-best 130 points in 60 game before capturing the OHL’s J. Ross Robertson Cup and Memorial Cup championship.
Perry made his NHL debut on Oct. 5, 2005 against the Chicago Blackhawks and earned his first NHL point (assist) on Teemu Selanne’s first-period goal.
Fast forward 10 years, and Perry has an Olympic gold medal and Stanley Cup championship under his belt, in addition to 296 goals, 306 assists, 602 points and a +92 rating in 722 career regular season games.
This past season saw Perry light the lamp with regularity, finding the back of the net 33 times and finishing with 55 points and a +13 rating in 67 games. His five 30-goal seasons are the third-most in franchise history behind only Selanne (7) and Paul Kariya (6), and his 33rd and final goal of 2014-15 made him the fourth Duck to record 600 career points, trailing Selanne (988), Ryan Getzlaf (678) and Kariya (669).
Though limited to 67 games, Perry still finished among league leaders in several offensive categories, ranking tied for 10th in goals, eighth in goals per game (.50) and tied for seventh in shooting percentage (17.1).
It was a season of accolades for the man known as #ScoreyPerry around these parts, and for good reason. Perry was named the NHL’s First Star for the Month of October, marking the sixth time in franchise history that a Ducks player has won the award (three different players). Perry recorded two hat tricks in the first seven games of the season, becoming the sixth NHL player in 29 years to record multiple hat tricks in the first seven games of a season. His first hat trick occurred in the club’s season opener at Pittsburgh, a feat never before accomplished in the history of the franchise. Four months later, he earned Second Star of the Week honors after co-leading the league in goals and points (4g/2a) from Feb. 2-8.
In all, hats were sacrificed three different times for Perry, including his franchise record-tying third hat trick of the season on Jan. 14 vs. Toronto. The three-goal performance made Perry the seventh NHL player since the 1995-96 season to have three hat tricks in the first 29 games of a season and the first since Alexander Semin in 2010-11 (no player has more than three). Perry matched Kariya for the second-most hat tricks in club history (8) and Selanne for the single-season franchise record.
Perry continued to lead by example in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where he finished with 10 goals and 18 points in 16 games against the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames and Chicago Blackhawks. It took him five fewer games to equal the franchise record for goals (Andy McDonald, 10 goals in 21 games in 2007) in a single postseason, and Perry concluded the playoffs ranked tied for seventh in scoring and tied for third in goals.
Over the years, Ducks fans have grown accustomed to seeing Perry shake off seemingly devastating hits and collisions with a Gumby-like quality. But on May 10, late in the second period of Anaheim’s Game 5 contest vs. Calgary at Honda Center, a hush fell over the standing-room-only crowd when the team’s leading postseason scorer crumbled to the ice.
As Perry entered the offensive zone, he and Flames forward Matt Stajan collided, sending Perry to the ice, his hands bracing his right knee as he tried (unsuccessfully) to get back on both feet. It didn’t look good for Perry, who also missed four weeks in December with a left knee strain.
Only a handful of minutes ticked away before Perry made his way back to the bench, much to the delight of the fans who chanted ‘PERRY, PERRY’ as he took a few laps during a stoppage of play. Though he played the third period – albeit gingerly – his impact was felt in overtime when he did what he has always done – get dirty.
Tied 2-2 in overtime, Perry parked in front of goaltender Karri Ramo as Cam Fowler’s point shot made its way through traffic. Hounded by defenseman Dennis Wideman, Perry jammed it past Ramo, giving Anaheim a thrilling 3-2 victory and a berth into the Western Conference Final. Perry, who lost his helmet in the mayhem in the crease, emerged and sprinted to the glass to celebrate with his teammates.
“It didn’t feel great when it happened,” Perry said, on his injury. “I wasn’t sure what was going on. It calmed down after a few minutes. You do anything to come back and help the team win at any part of the season, especially in the playoffs."