After signing a one-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens just before the start of the 2020-21 season, Corey Perry found himself on the waiver wire and then on the taxi squad for opening night. Fast forward three months and teams around the league must be kicking themselves for letting him get through because he has played a vital role with the Habs.
A Great Fit
The former Stanley Cup champion and Hart Trophy winner has nine goals and 16 points in 30 games while playing on a contract worth $750,000, a true bargain especially when you consider Montreal’s tight cap situation.
Perry has been a perfect addition to the Canadiens’ lineup for several reasons. He makes the power play better thanks to his net-front presence and creativity. He brings veteran leadership, a burning desire to win and an enviable passion for the game to the locker room.
After enjoying a successful playoff run to the Stanley Cup Final with the Dallas Stars last season, putting up nine points in 27 games in the postseason bubble, the 35-year-old has completed his renaissance with the Habs. Perry may have lost a step, but he’s thriving in an effective role that allows him to showcase his impressive skillset which has translated to him finding his scoring touch.
“It’s kind of what I’ve done my whole career, just being around the net. I’m playing with some good players. There are some really good players on this hockey team that can find you there. I feel confident and I just have to keep doing what I’m doing,” Perry said.
A Fixture in the Lineup
Perry doesn’t have to worry about being relegated to the taxi squad anymore because he’s become a key contributor and his value will only grow as the games become more crucial with the postseason fast approaching.
With Brendan Gallagher out of action for the foreseeable future, he has taken on an even bigger role and delivered so far. He scored both Habs goals in a 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday and recovered to play over 20 minutes against the Winnipeg Jets the following night.
Head coach Dominique Ducharme would love to reduce Perry’s minutes to keep him fresh for the final stretch and the playoffs, but it’s hard not to call on him when he consistently makes things happen on the ice whether it’s creating a scoring chance or getting under the skin of his opponents. It feels like he’s been involved in every timely goal the Canadiens have scored this season. He’s showing the way for his teammates, playing with an edge and with the energy of a rookie.
“He’s an important player. He can score big goals. Since he arrived, he’s helped us set the pace. He loves playing and talking hockey. He’s a real hockey guy. It’s no surprise that he scores so many goals around the net. He’s always in front and he can put pucks in,” Jonathan Drouin said of Perry.
For the Love of the Game
His impact with the Habs shows why Perry chose to continue his decorated career despite all his accomplishments and without any guarantee that he would even play on a regular basis. Because he still loves the game, but also because he wants to win badly, and he believes Montreal will give him that chance.
“Everything about being in Montreal has been great,” Perry said. “The organization has been phenomenal, and we’re trying everything we can to put a good product on the ice and go out there and try to win every single night. What I see of this team is that it’s a special group and we’re looking forward to continuing this season and making that push in those playoffs.”
Given how good the fit has been for both sides, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Perry sign an extension with the Canadiens in the coming months. Until then, the focus is on another Stanley Cup chase for a franchise and a player who have both experienced their fair share of triumphs. While the Canadiens may not be firm contenders just yet, Corey Perry certainly gives them a better chance to be champions once again.
Melissa has been covering the Montreal Canadiens for The Hockey Writers since March of 2020. She is also THW’s Social Media Community Manager and a co-host of Chicks & Sticks, a weekly show produced by THW. In 2006, she spearheaded the social media initiatives for Tennis Canada and Rogers Cup and was the primary person responsible for their upkeep for over 10 years. She has written articles for multiple tennis websites and interviewed the likes of Roger Federer and Serena Williams. While her career in sports started in tennis, her first love has always been hockey. She has a journalism degree from Concordia University.