Dallas Stars' Corey Perry (10) and Tampa Bay Lightning's Alex Killorn (17) battle for the puck during first period NHL Stanley Cup finals action in Edmonton on Monday, September 21, 2020. nbsp;Corey Perry had to set the record straight. Although the NHL's website,  and most online hockey databases, lists his birthplace as Peterborough, Ont., the winger actually spent the first 10 years of his life almost 500 kilometres north in New Liskeard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

‘I’m not going to change my game’: Perry eager to bring grit, experience to Canadiens

‘I’m not going to change my game’: Perry eager to bring grit, experience to Canadiens

Corey Perry had to set the record straight.

Although the NHL’s website — and most online hockey databases — lists his birthplace as Peterborough, Ont., the winger actually spent the first 10 years of his life almost 500 kilometres north in New Liskeard.

The Perrys called the town situated on the Quebec border home for a decade while Corey’s father, Geoff, worked with the Ontario Provincial Police.

And while the family would eventually relocate to Peterborough, the younger Perry was already all-in on the region’s sports darling — the Montreal Canadiens.

Some 25 years later, Corey Perry will soon pull on that iconic red, white and blue sweater as a professional for the first time.

The Canadiens signed the 2011 Hart Trophy winner and league MVP to a one-year contract at the NHL minimum of US$750,000 on Monday, adding another complementary piece in what has been a busy off-season for general manager Marc Bergevin.

“It’s something that I didn’t want to turn down,” Perry said Tuesday on a video conference call with reporters. “I’ve always wanted to play in a Canadian city.

“This is exciting for me. It’s a new chapter.”

The 35-year-old recalls a member of the Canadiens — he thinks it was defenceman Eric Desjardins — bringing the Stanley Cup to a hockey camp in Rouyn-Noranda, Que., a 90-minute drive north of New Liskeard, after Montreal hoisted the trophy back in 1993.

“I got my picture taken with it,” said Perry, who was selected 28th overall by Anaheim at the 2003 NHL draft. “That’s a fond memory for me.”

A Cup winner himself with the Ducks in 2007, he’s hoping for one more big memory in Montreal at the end of what will be a 56-game sprint in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Perry is also aware of rumblings his best days are behind him. He inked a one-year, $1.5-million contract with Dallas in July 2019 after having the final two seasons of an eight-year, $69-million deal he signed with Anaheim in 2013 bought out.

“I used it as motivation,” he said of the chatter. “I heard I couldn’t skate when I first came into the league, and I’d never play.

“I use all those things as fuel and fire.”

Bergevin had a productive off-season before signing Perry, acquiring forwards Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli, defenceman Joel Edmundson, and backup goalie in Jake Allen via trade or free agency. Montreal also locked up winger Brendan Gallagher and blue-liner Jeff Petry with long-term contract extensions, and added depth forward Michael Frolik on a one-year pact.

Perry had five goals and 21 points in 57 games with Dallas in 2019-20 before adding nine points (five goals, four assists) in 27 post-season games during the NHL’s summer restart, helping the Stars advance to the final where they fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.

“It just rips you apart,” said Perry, who was back training a few weeks later. “You’re hungrier.”

While putting pen to paper was left fairly late as the NHL hashed out plans for another season in the middle of a pandemic — the Canadiens are set to open training camp Sunday, and the schedule is slated to begin Jan. 13 — Perry was convinced he’d get a shot.

“I put in the work like I was coming to a camp,” he said. “There was no doubt in my mind there’s still lots of hockey left.”

Perry has 377 goals and 797 points in 1,045 career regular-season NHL games, captured that Hart Trophy, was part of gold medal-winning Canadian Olympic teams in both 2010 and 2014, and won the World Cup of Hockey in 2016.

His resume speaks for itself, and heading into another strange year — one that will include Montreal playing in the all-Canadian, one-time-only North Division because of pandemic-related border restrictions — Perry isn’t taking anything for granted as his new team looks to take another step after a promising breakthrough during the restart.

“There’s no assurance in anything,” he said. “You’ve got to come in and prove yourself each and every day. That’s why I’m here. I want to prove myself again. And then the next day you come into the rink, you’ve got to prove it again.

“There’s nothing given to anybody.”

Perry has some history with Canadiens captain Shea Weber and star goalie Carey Price from international play, and has worked with Montreal head coach Claude Julien, who was an assistant with the 2014 Olympic team and 2016 World Cup squad.

“I’m excited to get to know him as a person,” Perry said of Julien. “And really sit down and see how he wants to play.”

At this stage of his career, and in a season that will see Montreal clash with six teams over and over, the in-your-face Perry won’t be changing his recipe for success.

“Every team needs a little grit,” he said. “I’m excited to come in and be that spark or do what I have to do to be effective. I’m not going to change my game.

“It’s too late to change. I’m going to go out and just keep doing the same things I always do.”

That should suit the Canadiens just fine.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 29, 2020.


Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said Perry signed with the Canadiens over the weekend.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta identifies 573 new COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths on Saturday

There are currently 9,727 active cases of the virus in the province

A firetruck sits in front of a home on Harvey Close in Red Deer Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Firefighters respond to Red Deer fire

Red Deer firefighters responded to a blaze in the north part of… Continue reading

(Courtesy photo)
Red Deer rental prices drop slightly

Renting an apartment in Red Deer became slightly cheaper last month. Rentals.ca… Continue reading

Rylee Trippel was last seen Friday. (Photo contributed by RCMP)
Red Deer RCMP looking for missing teen

Police are looking for a teen who was last seen in the… Continue reading

The Red Deer Outreach Centre’s Adopt a Family program raised $60,000 in 2020. (Photo courtesy Red Deer Outreach Centre’s Facebook)
Red Deer Outreach Centre’s Adopt a Family program raised $60K in 2020

The executive director of the Red Deer Outreach Centre says she is… Continue reading

Former Alberta Premier Rachel Notley shakes hands with Joel Ward, former Red Deer College President and CEO, as Notley announces that the college is on the path to grant degrees. Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan says university status is not a necessary condition for offering degrees. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Future of Red Deer University increasingly uncertain

MLA’s college update says RDC more like SAIT and NAIT than a university

RCMP say missing teen Hope Tivendale has been found. (File photo by Advocate staff)
No foul play suspected after burned body of homeless person found in North Vancouver

VANCOUVER — A burned body, believed to be of a homeless person,… Continue reading

The central zone experienced a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases Thursday, rising from 454 to 508 active cases over the past 24 hours, with 10 people in hospital. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Spartan Bioscience says Health Canada has approved its rapid COVID-19 test

TORONTO — An Ottawa company says it’s received approval from Health Canada… Continue reading

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole defends decision to back, then oust, Sloan

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he was once willing to… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault pauses as he speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Non-essential travel ban would violate Constitution but courts might allow it: expert

MONTREAL — Fear that Quebecers will catch a new variant of COVID-19… Continue reading

A woman walks outside the Roberta Place Long Term Care home in Barrie, Ont. on Monday, January 18, 2021. The devastating toll of COVID-19 on long-term care residents in Canada has underscored the need for increased public funding for home care, advocates say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
COVID-19 deaths in long-term care reveal need for home supports: advocates

VANCOUVER — The devastating toll of COVID-19 on long-term care residents in… Continue reading

A Chinese flag is illuminated by sunshine in the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Thursday, September 22, 2016. China is threatening retaliation against Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned a new security law giving Beijing more control over Hong Kong.. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Diplomats contact Canadian held for over 2 years in China

BEIJING — Canadian officials have met online with former diplomat Michael Kovrig,… Continue reading

Marc Gold (centre) stands with senators André Pratte (left) and Peter Harder before being sworn in during a ceremony in the Senate on Parliament Hill, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Senator urges study of vexing barriers to using secret information in court cases

OTTAWA — A Senate committee should examine the hurdles that make it… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Winnipeg ticket holder wins Friday night’s $60 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — A ticket holder from Winnipeg won Friday night’s whopping $60… Continue reading

Most Read