It takes skill, luck, devotion, time and many other ingredients to play professional hockey. To reach the NHL takes even more. Winning the Stanley Cup requires so much to go right that the majority of NHL players in history have never done it. With all that in mind, imagine winning seven championships and not just Stanley Cup titles, but a Stanley Cup, a Memorial Cup, a World Cup and four gold medals. That doesn’t seem possible, yet former Anaheim Duck Corey Perry did it.
Though Perry is a Dallas Star now, let’s relive his path to becoming one of the winningest players in professional hockey history.
Perry Wins His First, Team Canada Wins No. 11
Perry’s first taste of winning a major title came with Team Canada at the 2005 World Junior Championships in North Dakota and Minnesota. Following Canada’s heartbreaking loss to the United States in the gold-medal game the preceding year, a lot was riding on the young Canadians in 2005. The same was true for Perry heading into camp since he’d been cut the year before.
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For all the pressure heaped upon Perry and his Canadian teammates, one look at the roster showed winning the gold medal was almost a foregone conclusion. Canada’s roster bristled with future All-Stars and potential Hall of Famers, including Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron, Shea Weber, Brent Seabrook, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Perry’s future teammate Ryan Getzlaf.
Canada scored at least seven goals in every preliminary round matchup and pounded both Finland and Sweden 8-1.
Canada’s path in the medal round wasn’t quite so easy at first when they defeated the Czech Republic 3-1 to advance to the final. But, in the final, Perry and his teammates shined against a Russian team that had perhaps the next two best players in the world at their age after Crosby in Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin.
Canada jumped out to an early 2-1 lead before pulling away in the second period with four goals to win 6-1. Perry contributed only an assist in the gold-medal game, on a goal by Bergeron. That went with his two goals and six other assists for seven points in the tournament.
The World Juniors brought together Perry and Getzlaf, forging a friendship and creating a chemistry that pushed the Ducks to a title just over two years later.
Perry’s Championship Pedigree Continues With London Knights
Statistical success came quickly for Perry at the start of his major junior career in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with the London Knights. Chosen No. 5 overall in the 2001 OHL priority draft, he notched 59 goals in 60 regular-season games as a rookie.
The Knights, a perennial contender during Perry’s time there, steadily improved until reaching juggernaut status in 2004-05. The team, which also featured future NHLers Dave Bolland, Brandon Prust and Dan Girardi, compiled a regular-season record of 59-2-7 behind Perry’s 47 goals and 83 assists.
Many of Perry’s opponents called his Knights the best team they’d ever played.
Former teammate Bobby Ryan, who had played against the Knights with the Owen Sound Attach told the media,
“There’d be times when you wouldn’t touch the puck for four or five minutes. It was extremely frustrating. I think we were the only team that beat them in regulation. They’re the best team I ever played against.”(From ‘Ducks’ Perry leaves no doubt at Olympics’ The Orange County Register, 2/20/2010).
The Knights tore through the OHL playoffs losing a mere two games on the way to the J. Robertson Cup. They would repeat that dominance against a field of teams with some very well-known names.
Memorial Cup Magic
The Knights’ opponents included Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL, who featured none other than Crosby. The Knights also faced Shea Weber’s Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League (WHL) and the team they had defeated in the OHL finals, the Ottawa 67’s. Since they were the host team, the Knights had an automatic bid, allowing the 67’s to qualify.
Perry did not disappoint, scoring four goals and adding three assists in three games. That included a third-period, game-tying goal in the Knights’ 4-3 overtime victory over Rimouski — a game that saw the Knights come back from a two-goal deficit.
The Knights defeated the Rockets 4-2 on two goals from Perry and then took down the 67’s again 5-2 with Perry contributing another goal. He added his seventh and final point, assisting in the Knights 4-0 victory in the Championship game over Crosby’s Oceanic.
Perry finished the tournament second in goals and fifth in points behind Crosby and three of his Rimouski teammates who benefited greatly from their time on ice with the once-in-a-generation forward.
It would be his second title — his first was the World Junior Championship he won with Canada a few months prior. He also won the Stafford Smythe Trophy as the Memorial Cup’s most valuable player.
Perry and the Ducks Make Stanley Cup History
Perry’s most well-known accomplishment, along with the Ducks’, is their 2007 Stanley Cup title. The first Cup won by a California team came in his second season in the NHL.
After the Ducks drafted him No. 28 overall in the legendary 2003 draft, he continued his dominance at the major junior and AHL level until making his NHL debut in 2005-06.
The Ducks had finally managed their first taste of sustained success, making the playoffs two of the prior three seasons, including a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2002-03. Scott Niedermayer was entering his second season in Anaheim, and Chris Pronger had just arrived in a trade from the Edmonton Oilers.
The season started productively for Perry, who contributed 10 points in his first 12 games. In that time, the Ducks didn’t lose in regulation, going 9-0-3. By season’s end, the Ducks had won their division and qualified as the second seed in the Western Conference. Perry had flirted with doubling the output of his rookie year with 44 points.
Part of that success came from his remarkable chemistry with linemates Getzlaf and Dustin Penner, making up the “Kid Line.” The Kid line would have an even more significant impact in the playoffs.
Perry and Kid Line Push Ducks to Title
The playoffs started slowly for Perry, who managed just one assist in the first four games. Luckily for Anaheim, he got better as they ventured deeper into the postseason. His first career playoff goal came in the Ducks’ series-clinching game against the Minnesota Wild.
He achieved his first multi-point playoff game the next round in Game 3 versus the Vancouver Canucks, scoring the game-winner in the third period and adding an assist.
It got even better as he scored 10 of his 15 points in the final two rounds, and 5 of those 10 in the last three games of the Stanley Cup Final.
Perry’s final goal of the 2006-07 playoffs, was the final goal of the 2006-07 playoffs, an insurance goal to bring the score to 6-2 in the Ducks’ Stanley Cup-clinching Game 5 victory.
When it was all said and done, Perry ended the 2006-07 playoffs tied for second in Ducks scoring with Teemu Selanne and Chris Pronger in only his second NHL season. His linemate and friend, Getzlaf, finished first.
Interestingly, the only other player to achieve the success that Perry did, Scott Niedermayer, won the Conn Smythe.
The kid line of Perry, Getzlaf and Penner combined for 38 playoff points to help bring the Ducks their first Stanley Cup title.
Perry, much like Niedermayer — the only other player to win a Stanley Cup, Olympic gold medal, World Junior gold medal, World Championship gold medal, Memorial Cup and World Cup — has won two Olympic golds.
They came in consecutive Olympic tournaments in 2010 and 2014.
In 2010, Perry tied Dany Heatley and Crosby for second on the Olympic team with four goals. He added an assist to finish the Olympics with five points, but his most significant contribution came in the gold-medal game against Team USA. He scored Canada’s second goal off a pass from Getzlaf that deflected off another Ducks teammate, Team USA defender Ryan Whitney.
Of Perry’s five points, all but one came in combination with Getzlaf. The 2014 Olympics transpired somewhat differently for him, but the result was the same, another gold medal.
2014 Encore Domination
For Perry’s part, he wasn’t sure he’d make the team and missed the phone call telling him of the good news as he told the Peterborough Examiner at the time.
“It’s pretty funny because when they called, I was still in bed because it’s California, and they were calling from the Eastern time zone,” he said. “It was a quarter to seven in the morning my time. Ken Holland left me a message saying, ‘Congratulations, you’ve been elected to the team, and we’re happy to have you.’ That was pretty much it. I got up about 7:30 and heard the message and me and my girlfriend were pretty excited to be a part of it again. Any time you get to represent your country, it’s a pretty cool feeling.”(From ‘Corey Perry hopes for more memorable moments in Sochi’ Peterborough Examiner, 2/08/2014).
There was also the question of locale. In 2014, the games were played in Sochi, Russia, on a different continent, let alone a different time zone. Perry had experienced this before, but few had experienced the headlines about the accommodations, which at the dawn of the games were lacking. Hotels weren’t finished, toilets in odd places.
By the time the team arrived, however, they were ready to play.
Though Perry only registered an assist in the 2014 games, he was part of one of the most dominant performances in Olympic history. He and Canada skated to six wins, one in overtime while allowing a stingy three goals in all six games combined.
This domination came against the best in the world, with NHL players allowed to play in 2014. In the semifinals, they shutout Team USA, who had combined for 20 goals scored in the preliminary round and quarterfinal, 1-0. Their goal differential led the tournament in the prelims at plus-11, and Team Canada shut them out.
In the finals, they blanked the other powerhouse, Sweden, 3-0 to win the gold.
The Best Team Ever Assembled
Like many of Perry’s teams, from his 2005 World Junior team and London Knights, the 2014 Canadian Olympic team is considered one of the best ever assembled.
Of the team’s performance, Perry said,
“Once you come back here and you sit back, and you look at what we really did, it’s a tremendous feeling. It’s a tremendous feat in itself to give up three goals in six games against guys you play with and play against every single day.”(From ‘Getzlaf, Perry now part of Team Canada lore’ The Orange County Register, 2/26/2014).
It would be the last time NHL players were allowed to participate in the Olympics until perhaps the next winter Olympic games in 2022.
World Championship Wonder
Perry’s World Championship was his sixth and his first to come as captain of Team Canada. Canada was looking to repeat as champions after winning their first title in 11 years in 2015.
During his time with the Ducks, Perry was at the height of his abilities. He had scored 34 goals in Anaheim as the Ducks were expected to be a Cup contender. That was before they were dispatched in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in seven games by the Nashville Predators.
As a result, Perry was available to play in the World Championships, and he did not disappoint.
He scored 9 points in 10 games, including 4 goals as Team Canada won their second World Championship in as many years.
Perry Joins the Most Elite Company
Perry’s final step to joining Niedermayer in their elite club meant winning the World Cup of Hockey. It’s a feat that is surprisingly difficult to achieve even for Team Canada, considering the World Cup isn’t held consistently. In 2016, he didn’t make the team until Jeff Carter sustained an injury during offseason training.
Still, Perry and Team Canada’s path was arguably more difficult than in any other tournament. Since the NHL and the NHL Players association put on the event, not the IIHF, the teams didn’t strictly have to be determined by nationality. Though Sweden, the Czech Republic, Finland and Russia all had their pick of the best players their countries had to offer from the NHL and elsewhere, Canada and the US had their best 23-and-under players poached for the North American team.
That included Perry’s fellow Duck teammate John Gibson and future stars Jack Eichel, Johnny Gaudreau, Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, and Connor McDavid.
Meanwhile, a team made of players from European nations that didn’t have their own country already in the tournament distilled the talent even further.
He scored twice for Canada in the World Cup. Both goals came in classic Perry fashion, directly in front of the net. His goal against Team USA resulted from a deflection off his thigh while crashing the net. The Russia goal came off a rebound that Perry calmly threaded between his own legs and roofed over Sergei Bobrovsky.
Perry finally achieved his improbable feat with Team Canada’s consecutive wins over Team Europe in the final series. With the win, he secured a World Cup, the final trophy needed to match Niedermayer.
What to Do With All That Hardware?
Before the semifinal against Russia, Perry joked about all of his hardware.
“I don’t travel with them,” Perry deadpanned as Team Canada prepared for its semifinal game against Russia in the World Cup of Hockey. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with them. We’ll figure something out when I’m done playing.”
Perry’s long and storied career has come with success that has only been matched or exceeded by Niedermayer, a teammate of his on the 2007 Stanley Cup-winning Ducks team. Niedermayer’s trophy case is even more impressive. While he has won as many gold medals in international competition (along with a silver in his first World Cup of Hockey), the Canadian defenseman won a staggering four Stanley Cups. Three came with New Jersey and the last came with Anaheim.
Still, Perry’s winning record, both in the NHL and internationally, speaks for itself. Add to that his Hart and Maurice Richard Trophies and his resume is even more impressive. Though he’s probably on the bubble for Hall of Fame consideration, his international record may garner him a few more points. Once his time in the NHL is up, he is sure to have his number retired by the Ducks, a fitting honor for one of the winningest players in Ducks history.
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.