The phrase “What have you done for me lately,” should be engraved in bronze and screwed to every professional sports team’s front office door. With the relationship between Corey Perry and the Anaheim Ducks, the answer was “not enough.” That’s why the Ducks announced Wednesday they had bought out Perry’s contract, one face that belongs on the Mount Rushmore of all-time Ducks.
It was a difficult but logical decision considering the young players they have waiting at right wing, Perry’s position, the cost of keeping him for the duration of his contract and the lack of a suitable trade partner for him. Although it was difficult, there are a few silver linings outside of the cap savings and open roster spot that buying out Perry’s contract created.
Getzlaf, the One and Only
No, Ryan Getzlaf and Perry were never competing against each other; at least they haven’t been, but they might be soon. Getzlaf, a center, never had to fight for a roster spot against Perry, and their contracts were always in the same ballpark. They worked in unison to help bring the first Stanley Cup to Southern California, beating the rival Los Angeles Kings to the punch by five seasons.
However, when it comes to value to the franchise, Getzlaf’s career has had the bigger impact; it’s only right that, barring a catastrophe, he will take over the Ducks’ all-time games-played mantle. He’s four games behind Perry, and he will tie his former teammate in games played before the end of October.
Getzlaf will be the only Duck to play 1000 games for the franchise, which squares with his status as the team’s potential future all-time points leader — he has a strong chance to overtake Teemu Selanne in 2020-21 if he doesn’t do it next season — and all-time leader in assists.
It’s a deserving honor for a player whose career longevity and productivity will be the standard by which we measure future Ducks greats.
Ducks Front Office Not Afraid to Move On
In buying out Perry, general manager Bob Murray and owners Henry and Susan Samueli have demonstrated that they don’t believe in lifetime contracts. According to Cap Friendly, the Ducks have bought out five players since 2008. At $8 million, Perry’s contract is the most expensive ever bought out by the Ducks, and his is the biggest name in franchise history to befall that fate.
Though a buy out isn’t an honorable way for one of the best players in Ducks history, and the only player to win a Hart Trophy with the team, to go out, it shows that Murray doesn’t have any sacred cows.
Perhaps it reflects poorly on the contract Murray offered Perry in the first place, but the fact that he’s willing to admit his mistake by doing something as extreme as buying out Perry shows he still got the team’s best interests in mind.
Additionally, the fact that the Samuelis agreed to let Murray buy out Perry’s contract, despite his contributions to the community and the team, shows that fielding a winning hockey team is still the top priority for them.
Perry’s Return Will Be Epic
It would be great for Perry to have played 1000 games for Anaheim, retired as a Duck and had his jersey lifted to the rafters, but how much fun is that? Some of sports’ most compelling stories come from drama, heartbreak and healing old wounds
Perry will likely return to Anaheim in an opposing team’s jersey and that represents a perfect opportunity for a tearful night at Honda Center. Just imagine the tribute video the team will show, and the greeting Perry will have his first time back in Anaheim.
It’s not like he will return with any stigma attached to his name. He didn’t leave on his own as a free agent, and he didn’t slander the team on his way out of town or demand a trade. He’s the good guy. It could be the exact opposite of what happened on Long Island this past season to John Tavares.
In a similar way that Paul Kariya’s return to Anaheim last season for his jersey retirement was a happy and cathartic memory during a difficult season, Perry’s return could be the same this coming season. Whatever team he signs with, fans will mark the date of his return on their calendar and show up in droves to show support for their former star.
When Perry signs with another team, continues his career and eventually retires, he will be remembered as one of the all-time great Ducks. Although it will be difficult to see him play elsewhere, Perry’s buyout shows that the team’s management has the right motivations and provides an opportunity for a happy moment. It’s much better this way than having Perry play out his expensive contract as a shell of the player he once was, taking up a roster spot and some cash away from a team that needs it.
Anthony Ciardelli grew up in Vermont and New Hampshire but now lives in Los Angeles. Though he was raised a Bruins fan, he quickly came to enjoy the hockey culture in Southern California and the rivalry between the Kings and Ducks. He covered USC Athletics while pursuing his journalism masters there. He also enjoys doing play-by-play for USC Trojan Hockey.