Corey Perry Looking For That Cup Magic With the Lightning

Longtime forward Corey Perry has been close in clinching his second Stanley Cup championship of his career the last two seasons. The 36-year-old left the Anaheim Ducks in 2019 after spending most of 14 seasons there and went to both the Dallas Stars for the 2019-20 season and the Montreal Canadiens for 2020-21. In both instances with the Stars and the Canadiens, he found himself in the Stanley Cup Final, duking it out for the ultimate prize. However, in both situations, Perry was on the losing side of the series. Dallas fell in six games while Montreal was eliminated in five.

Both times, Perry and his team lost to the same organization: the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now, this summer, he inked a deal with said club, hoping he can finally win one more championship before hanging up his skates. He is going to have a lot of firepower to work with; even when special talents like Yanni Gourde (Seattle Kraken), Blake Coleman (Calgary Flames), and Barclay Goodrow (New York Rangers), among others, are no longer there. He is going to see if another Cup Final is in his future.

The Previous Two Cup Finals

Perry won the Cup with the Ducks back in the 2006-07 campaign. It was only his second season in the league, and he learned from some of the best mentors in Teemu Selanne, Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, and Todd Marchant, among others. From the 2007-08 season until 2018-19, he remained a key member of Anaheim’s core.

He and others like captain Ryan Getzlaf took the franchise to nine more postseason appearances in that time period. Perry individually accomplished quite a bit, as well, making four NHL All-Star Games and hitting 50 goals in 2010-11 (where he won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy for a league-leading goal scorer and the Hart Memorial Trophy for regular-season MVP). Despite all of this though, Perry and the Ducks never made it back to the Cup Final again during his tenure there. He was bought out of his contract with the club in June 2019.

Corey Perry
Corey Perry won the Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

His first stop post-Ducks was to the Stars. He signed a one-year contract with them and was one of a few interesting moves made by general manager Jim Nill. Joining Perry among the new faces to Dallas were former San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski and former Edmonton Oilers defenseman Andrej Sekera. The Stars already had a stacked group of talent in their own right with Tyler Seguin, captain Jamie Benn, Alexander Radulov, and young defender Miro Heiskanen to name a few.

The 2019-20 season saw Perry play in 57 regular-season matchups. He tallied five goals and 16 assists for 21 points. He provided veteran leadership in the locker room for younger players like Heiskanen, Roope Hintz, and Denis Gurianov, among others. The regular season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Stars made the playoffs when the NHL returned in August 2020 to determine a new Cup champion to crown. Dallas made it through their series matchups against the Flames, Colorado Avalanche, and Vegas Golden Knights to find themselves in the Cup Final versus the Lightning; a squad led by the likes of Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, and Victor Hedman.

In this Cup Final, Perry especially contributed in crucial moments during Game 5 when he opened the scoring for the Stars with his fourth goal of the playoffs. He later sealed the deal for Dallas by notching the double-overtime winner to give them the 3-2 win and forcing a Game 6. Tampa made sure there was no seventh contest, however, as they won Game 6 by a final score of 2-0 to clinch the Cup. Perry finished the postseason run overall with five goals and four assists for nine points in 27 contests.

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Becoming a free agent once again in 2020, Perry went to Canada and was brought aboard to Montreal on what was another one-year deal by their general manager Marc Bergevin. It was a dream come true for Perry as he grew up a Canadiens fan. Like with Dallas, he was able to provide his veteran leadership for the younger players in Nick Suzuki, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and Cole Caufield once he joined the roster. Perry finished the 2020-21 regular season, accumulating 21 points (nine goals and 12 assists) in 49 games.

The Canadiens made the postseason and pushed their way past the Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, and Golden Knights to reach the Cup Final for the first time since 1993 when they beat the Los Angeles Kings. Like Perry had to the previous year with Dallas, Montreal had to take on the Bolts to try and claim the Cup. Unfortunately for Perry and the Habs, history repeated itself and Tampa successfully defended their championship title for 2021. Perry finished this playoff run with a total of 10 points in 22 games (four goals and six assists). This was the second straight time Perry was denied winning his second career championship, and some speculated whether this might have been the last season for him in the sport.

Once he hit the free-agent market for the third straight time, he agreed to a two-year deal with the team he was beaten by twice for the Cup in the Lightning. With certain talents having to leave Tampa, Perry was one of a few new faces brought in to replace those who went to new opportunities. Other players Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois brought in include Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Brian Elliott, and Zach Bogosian. Perry now hopes he will finally be able to achieve that second Cup championship after being so close to it the last couple of seasons. Who better to try and win it with than the team who beat you twice for it? It was a perfect match. It will be interesting to see where he slots in the lineup when the puck drops in October.

Third Time’s The Charm

One player this Perry-Cup situation reminds me of was when Hockey Hall of Fame winger Marian Hossa was chasing his first championship back in the late 2000s. He was acquired by the Pittsburgh Penguins around the 2008 trade deadline from the Atlanta Thrashers before they made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. They lost to the Detroit Red Wings that postseason in six contests. In the summer, Hossa left the team and signed a one-year contract with Detroit. The 2009 playoffs set up a rematch between both clubs again, with Hossa taking on his old teammates from the previous Cup Final. The tides remained against him as the Penguins broke through and defeated the Red Wings this time around in seven games. Hossa was zero-for-two on back-to-back Cup Final appearances.

Marian Hossa went to the Detroit Red Wings after losing to them in the 2008 Stanley Cup Final as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Image Credit: Daylife.com)

Hossa left Detroit in 2009’s edition of NHL free agency to land a 12-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks. They were a team with a lot of young star power in Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane along with cornerstone backend skill in Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Not to mention, they had one of the best head coaches ever in hockey in Joel Quenneville.

After missing out on winning the Cup both times with the Penguins and Red Wings, Hossa was finally able to hoist the trophy high when the Blackhawks went to the Cup Final in 2010 (Hossa’s third straight trip). The writing was on the wall for him to succeed already at this point. He fit in well off the bat in the regular season with the team by amounting to 51 points (24 goals and 27 helpers) in 57 games. That ranked him fifth on the squad in scoring. He was behind Kane (88 points), Keith (69 points), Toews (68), and Patrick Sharp (66).

Hossa was a key contributor to the offense on that playoff run as well, chalking up three goals and 12 assists for 15 points in 22 matchups. The Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in six games to win their first Cup since 1961. That Cup victory was just the beginning for Hossa, as Chicago carved out their own dynasty by beating the Boston Bruins in 2013 and the Lightning in 2015 for two more championships. Hossa retired as a three-time winner and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2020.

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Is Perry’s situation the same as Hossa’s? No. Perry already has one Cup win from his time in Anaheim. He did not have to wait a bunch of seasons before helping claim that first title. However, like with Hossa, Perry has been trying to find the fit that will bring him to the promised land (in his case for the second time). He has been so close, just like Hossa was in the late 2000s.

Like with Hossa before, Perry is hoping a third straight Cup Final appearance is on the horizon in 2022. Like Hossa going to the Red Wings, he is joining a team he lost to in the final playoff round. He wants at least one more ring before he calls it a career, and he has been as close as possible without winning twice. Time will tell if Perry, like Hossa, gets a third straight shot and if he can capitalize on that opportunity and finally win his second Cup.

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