Corey Perry's Perpetual Pain Started with the Montreal Canadiens

Another season, another Stanley Cup Final where Corey Perry found himself on the losing side. It happened in Edmonton, it happened in Tampa, it happened in Montreal, and it happened in Dallas. Can the guy catch a break?
2021 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three
2021 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Thank God for the Anaheim Ducks of 2006-07, or else the situation with Corey Perry would be heartbreaking, rather than just sad. And who knew that Marc Bergevin signing Perry on a league minimum contract would kick start one of the strangest runs in NHL history.

The closet thing that I can recall is the run of Marian Hossa in the late 2000s. He lost in the Final as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and then lost to the Penguins as a member of the Red Wings the next year, but finally won the prize the year after with the Chicago Blackhawks.

But there is a difference between what Hossa did, and what Perry did. Hossa tried his best to break the 'Hossa Curse' and his agent even claimed they developed an algorithm to find the most likely team to break the streak.

Perry...not so much.

Corey Perry
Anaheim Ducks v Arizona Coyotes / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Perry was a long-time key contributor to a regular season powerhouse Ducks, along with Ryan Getzlaf, but after age and injuries caught up to the former Hart and Rocket trophy winner, and he was bought out of his contract, and signed with the Dallas Stars.

In Dallas, Perry didn't put up terrific numbers in the regular season, but was a solid contributor in the playoffs, but found himself the odd man out once again on a very good Stars squad that had just made the Final, and were looking at competing for a long time.

It even took until December for Perry to get a contract, and at that point, it was league minimum for a Montreal Canadiens squad in the middle of a rebuild looking for veteran leadership. This was not a contending team, and it was nice to see them squeak into the playoffs as the last seed in the Canadian division.

But then the Toronto Maple Leafs were playing in the first round so they predictably messed everything up, Winnipeg were promptly swept, and the Vegas Golden Referees were downed in a crazy 6 game series. All leading up to a trouncing in the Final to the repeated champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

But Perry had gained esteem around the league as a tough, veteran presence that stepped it up come playoff time, and would be a welcome fit on any contender. Marc Bergevin didn't want to give Perry any sort of term, and so he went off to the team that would give him two years, and a great shot at the Final, the Lightning.

Perry signing with the Lightning was the only move in this whole saga that could be seen as Cup chasing. They had just won the Cup for the second year in a row, and still had the core locked down. So it wasn't a surprise that they went to the Final in Perry's first year, only to fall short again to the Colorado Avalanche.

The second year of the contract didn't go as peachy, and the Lightning flamed out in the first round of the playoffs. As the team had some serious questions about the future, an old grizzled veteran was the furthest thing from their minds, and Perry wasn't offered another contract.

After three Stanley Cup Finals in four years and getting up there in age, it would be easy to see Perry jump on another competitive roster for the league minimum and chase a ring. But there was one factor no one counted on: the cap floor.

The Chicago Blackhawks were the worst team in the league and got superstar prospect Connor Beddard, but still needed to fork over a lot of cash to make it to the minimum amount. So Perry got the massive overpayment of a one-year $4 million.

It seemed impossible for Perry to reach the Final again, but after being dismissed from the Blackhawks, he had a new leash on the season and used it to sign with the Edmonton Oilers.

The massively underperforming, noted playoff chokers Edmonton Oilers. There was little hope for the Oilers to make too much noise in the playoffs. After all, they have had McDavid and Draisaitl for years and haven't made it, and they were near the bottom of the standings and fired their head coach.

But Stuart Skinner decided the team would not lose in the back half of a series and McDavid broke records with his performance and the team faced the stacked Florida Panthers.

Likewise, the series seemed over after the Panthers took a 3-0 series lead. But the Oilers fought back and forced game 7. They were the team of destiny, perfectly mirroring the champions St. Louis Blues of 2019. Both teams were at the bottom of the standings, both teams fired their head coach, and both teams had a song, La Bamba and Gloria.

But the Perry curse was stronger and the Panthers locked down game seven, and Perry spent another year going all the way, and coming up short.

5 years, 4 Finals, 4 teams. Nothing has even come close. The Stars were a good team and deserved to make the Final. That first year was just a fact. The Canadiens were not expected to get anywhere near the Cup, but there they were. That was an act of God, the true start of this forsaken saga.

Then Perry flew too close to the sun, and signed with a proven winner, all but guaranteeing another win and a new NHL dynasty, only to be blocked by the upstart Avalanche. And after that, just happy to still be here, not looking for anything more, Perry joined the worst team in the league, only to somehow end up in the last game of the NHL season once again.

It's Sysiphus rolling the boulder up that hill, only Greek curses aren't supposed to be real. Perry was unknowably roped into pushing the boulder of a Stanley Cup championship practically by accident and only decided to test his strength once. And now, even if he tries to deny it, to turn around and go down that hill, he still finds his way to the top, one step from making it up that hill, only for the boulder to slowly roll back down.

The good news for non-Edmonton Oiler fans and fans of league parity, it looks like we will have a new Western Conference champion, as Perry has resigned from the Oilers. And the last time Perry played two years in one place, it didn't exactly end well.

Again, we have to thank that Stanley Cup win back in 2007. Otherwise, a painful, utterly unique saga in NHL history would have truly been a Greek tragedy.