Corey Perry understands the perception.
The veteran winger has always been seen as a guy who likes to stir the pot, a guy that people love to hate, a guy who might go over the line every now and then.
But he's actually quite different off the ice. That's one reason he has been able to handle a hectic season and feels there are still good things for him as he nears his 35th birthday May 16.
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"This is who I am," he said in a relaxed tone as he was self-isolating from his summer home in Ontario. "It's funny when you hear people talk about me. I'm a calm person and laid back, and I just let the punches roll. On the ice, I am fiery, and I do get going. I don't like losing. Off the ice, I'm pretty chill."
That's been extremely helpful for Perry as the past year has been one of the most emotional of his 14-year NHL career. Perry was bought out by the Anaheim Ducks last summer after playing almost 1,000 games with the franchise. He signed with the Stars as a free agent, but then broke his foot the day before training camp. That caused Perry to miss the first seven games of the season, and caused a slow start to his time in Victory Green.
Then, when he was starting to get rolling, he received a five-game suspension for elbowing Nashville's Ryan Ellis in the Winter Classic and had to battle through another stoppage. Now, he's sidelined again with the pause in the season, but said he has been able to remain positive.
"It's been a bit of a roller coaster," Perry said. "It was tough at the start to break my foot the day before camp. It was a freak accident and I had to work hard to come back. I started to get my feet under me, and then the suspension stopped that. But I really felt I was starting to play some good hockey and play more consistently and that was a good feeling. Now, I need to try and get back to that."
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Perry had a goal and four assists for five points in the 10 games before the league stopped play. That's up from the .34 points per game he had in his first 47 games.
"Hopefully, if we do continue the season, it's trending upward for me, because I do feel that way," he said.
To be able to resume his upward trend, Perry has been working hard. He said he typically stops skating for two months in the summer, so he's looking at his time off the ice right now in a similar manner. He said he's working out on a Peloton and outside with his road bike, as well as working with weights. He said his summers will typically include working with a training in the gym, and he does miss that.
"It's not everything I need, but it definitely does the trick," he said.
It has to, because he very much wants to get back on the ice and fight for the Stanley Cup this season. That's part of the makeup that has allowed him to win championships in the NHL, the Olympics, the World Cup, the World Championship, and World Juniors. And it's also part of the makeup that allows him to evaluate his age and experience.
"I know where I am in my career and what the impact this would have. I don't want to lose this opportunity," he said. "At the same time, you can't put people at risk and you have to take all of the precautions that are necessary."
The uncertainty is the return could create issues of anxiety for Perry, but he said he's not that way. In fact, having played 118 playoff games gives him a pretty good idea that a steady mind can be extremely helpful at this time of year.
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"I think emotionally you know how to keep it under control," he said. "Use your emotion and your adrenaline to your advantage. Don't waste energy, stay focused on the task at hand. That's one of the big things I've learned. And the other thing is to have fun with it. You're here to win, but this is what you dreamed of as a kid.
"That's how I've always looked at it. If it's overtime and you need that goal, you want to be that guy just like you wanted it when you were a kid playing on the street."
The experience also has taught him that he's on a pretty good team that has a chance to win it all.
"I look at our team and we're a veteran team, but we also have a lot of youth in our lineup," he said. "I look at how St. Louis won last year, how Boston got to the finals, and they played heavy games, and I see our team being like that. You need to have some grit in the playoffs, because the ice feels like it gets smaller out there, there's not a lot of room. I feel our team is definitely built for the playoffs."
Which is just one more reason to be ready for a potential return to play. He's getting older and he's a free agent when this season is over, but his calm nature is telling him he can handle that. His real focus, he said, is trying to make the most of this time right now.
"I feel really good. I've been working hard. I'm not getting any younger, so I have to work hard," he said. "Some things you can't control, so you adjust to whatever comes, and have fun with it.
"I know there's more hockey left in me, and I'll be ready when the time comes."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.