LAS VEGAS -- David Perron knows all about beating the odds, which is appropriate for someone who practices his profession in a gambling mecca.
His Vegas Golden Knights have done so by reaching the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season. Game 1 of the best-of-7 series against the Washington Capitals is here Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN TVAS).
But Perron was just as much of a long shot to get to the NHL, and the 29-year-old forward has forged an 11-season career in the League.
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"Basically, I don't know if I can compare [Vegas' success] to my personal situation or not, but if I do, I hope that we just keep going because that is what I try to do also," Perron said.
At 17, Perron was off the NHL radar. While many of his future NHL peers were starting to put up big numbers in major junior hockey leagues across Canada, Perron had been passed over in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft and was playing AAA junior hockey for St. Jerome, two hours from his home in Sherbrooke, Quebec.
Of the 31 players listed on the St. Jerome roster for the 2005-06 season, Perron is the only one to make it to any level of pro hockey. Three others played college hockey in the United States. Most ended their hockey career in the QJAAAHL.
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Like most success stories, Perron's involved a lot of hard work, a healthy dose of self-belief and a little bit of luck.
"When you grow up and you are 5 or 6 years old, you want to play in the NHL bad, and then when I got to be 15, 16, I just played because I loved the game so much," Perron said. "I stopped worrying about the next level, and that is when things started happening.
"When you don't worry about the next level, the final goal, you just worry about day by day doing what you can to get better. That's what I did; I was training like crazy, I was doing everything that I could to be a better hockey player."
It paid off.
He was noticed by a scout from Lewiston, a QMJHL team based in Maine. He signed as a free agent. Lewiston coach Ed Harding was immediately impressed.
"When David came to us, he could already stick-handle inside a phone booth," said Harding, now coach at the University of Southern Maine. "He was a natural goal-scorer."
There were concerns about Perron's speed and his play away from the puck, but he worked diligently on each and improved dramatically as the 2006-07 season progressed.
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Perron finished with 83 points (39 goals, 44 assists) in 70 regular-season games. Lewiston was the QMJHL representative in the Memorial Cup, and Perron impressed there as well.
A few weeks later, he was selected by the St. Louis Blues in the first round (No. 26) of the 2007 NHL Draft.
"For me personally, when I went through this, I was trying to stay even-keeled and not get too impressed what the situation is," Perron said. "I went from Midget B to junior AAA to major junior to NHL in three consecutive years.
"I was honestly trying to make the NHL in that third year, and I was just trying to do my thing and not be impressed by the guys around me, which was hard to do."
He did it, making the Blues that first season and never looking back. He has never played in the minor leagues and has 722 regular-season games and counting on his NHL resume.
After six seasons with the Blues, Perron kicked around a bit, with short stops with the Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks followed by a one-season return with St. Louis.
He was selected by the Golden Knights from the Blues in the NHL Expansion Draft to provide some scoring (378 points in 652 NHL games entering 2017-18) on a team almost bereft of proven talent in the offensive zone.
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Like each of the previous stops in his NHL career, Perron has impressed with his skill, and his perseverance.
"I knew him from coaching against him with other teams," Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. "He was a competitive guy, good hands, good skill and [can] make plays.
"Actually, I know his personality now and I have a lot more respect than I did for him before. He is one of the first guys here every day. He is a true pro, and like I said, he likes to play hockey."
Vegas general manager George McPhee said Perron has been a pleasant surprise.
"David's had a terrific year, a career year," McPhee said. "He turned out to be a far better playmaker than we originally thought. He really hangs on to the puck and holds people off and uses his strength."
Perron had 66 points (16 goals, 50 assists) in 70 games. He has seven assists in 11 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Still, Perron wants more.
This is his first time in the Stanley Cup Final. It is his first time past the second round, in fact. He wants to finish his dream, the one that started so long ago in Melancon Arena, St. Jerome's home, and figuratively a million miles from the Las Vegas Strip.
"I'm just happy to be here now," Perron said. "What this team has accomplished from Day One to now, it feels like it has been way longer than a year. You remember the first few weeks of the season, and it almost feels like a couple of years ago because there has been so much that has been accomplished, but at the same time, there is so much more that we can do."
Perron knows that better than most.
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