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by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning
tbl.commentator - Melanie Formentin

When people talk about Eric Perrin he is often associated with the glory of his University of Vermont days. In turn, those memories are often associated with one of his best friends and NHL star, Martin St. Louis.

For Perrin, the time and opportunity have arrived for him to break free from those shadows and develop his own identity. Just how that identity will be defined is something he hopes to discover this season.

Although the lockout resulted in Perrin taking his game to Europe for a season, he re-joined the Lightning organization this summer ready to fight his way back on to the team. Perrin went into training camp with a new focus, putting up four points (two goals, two assists) in six preseason games and doing his best to make it known he was back and ready to play.

"My main goal is to help this team in whichever way that I can, whatever role that I'm put in, and just to be a consistent player at this level," said Perrin. "[I want] to make a name for myself and mainly just help this team win some hockey games."

Winning hockey games means that Perrin will be expected to contribute as a member of the third and fourth lines. Although his four preseason points and solid play earned him a spot on an opening night NHL roster for the first time, Perrin acknowledges that there will be some challenges as he heads into what he hopes will be a full season in the NHL.

"Probably the biggest thing will be the schedule - a hectic schedule - and the number of games," said Perrin. "I did it two years in the American Hockey League and it's not something I can't do, but it's just re-adapting to it. Over there (in Switzerland) it's more a lot of practicing, with less games - only two games in a week."

Even with the challenges that come with re-adjusting to playing in the NHL, one thing that works in Perrin's favor are the rule changes that were implemented while he was playing overseas. With more open ice and less obstruction, Perrin hopes to take advantage of the new rules that will hopefully complement his admittedly smaller stature.

"I think I can make the most out of it," Perrin said of the new rules. "I know I'm not the most imposing guy physically, but I think that with the speed of the game, the skills, and the way the game is changing, it helps my style a lot."

The quickness of Perrin's game is something that will likely benefit the Lightning in the new, speedier NHL, and his rejuvenated personal focus is one that mirrors that of the organization. Having appeared in 12 playoff and four regular season games in 2003-04, the prospect of reclaiming the magic of the Stanley Cup winning season is one that Perrin carries with him.

"I'm just looking forward to maybe living another year like I did when I got called up at the end of the year," Perrin said of his outlook for the season. "We all shoot for that [the Cup] of course, and I know this team is really excited this year. There is a good atmosphere about getting back to that point."

On top of the team atmosphere, Perrin's already upbeat attitude is made even more positive as he finds himself playing in a city he is thoroughly happy to be in.

"I loved it when I was here for two-and-a-half months," Perrin said of playing in Tampa. "My family was very happy here. We just loved it so we're real excited to be back."

The excitement of being back in Tampa and playing with the Lightning organization can be expected to shine through in Perrin's play. As a player who combines both skill and determination to be successful, Perrin overcame his biggest hurdle by making the Lightning's roster out of camp. One might guess that the go-getter attitude and sense of perseverance that brought him to this point could easily end up being the hallmark of the identity that Perrin emerges with this season.
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