Corey Perry was born on May 16, 1985 in Peterborough, Ontario. (Click here for a complete listing of today's sports birthdays.) He was the first of two boys born to Geoff and Nancy Perry. Corey and his brother Adam were both on skates early. Corey started at age two and began following hockey on television a year later. It was at this time that he made a prophetic announcement: “I'm going to play for you on TV, Mom.”
Corey joined his first organized team after his fourth birthday and moved through the midget and bantam ranks with essentially the same group of hockey-playing friends. Like any good father, Geoff, a Provincial police officer, offered his son some sound hockey advice: Be careful. And like any self-respecting kid, Corey did just the opposite. His game was based on annoying, antagonizing and disrupting other players.
As far back as anyone can remember, Corey was always yapping at opponents. He loved to swoop in from the right wing to create havoc in front of the goalie, and the corners weren’t safe when Corey started throwing elbows and knees.
His Peterborough Minor Petes teams always had good talent. They won a lot of games and made more than a few enemies. In 2001, Peterborough took a midget title and captured the All-Ontario Bantam AAA Championship. Corey scored 73 goals in 67 regular season games that year.
When Corey turned 16, he was considered one of the top prospects in junior hockey. He was selected fifth in the 2001 Ontario Hockey League draft by the London Knights. It was a good fit for Corey. The Knights had just been purchased by the Hunters brothers, Dale and Mark, who were planning to build a new arena. Dale would be the team’s coach. As the only NHL player with 1,000 points and 3,000 penalty minutes, he would have a lot to do in shaping Corey’s game.
Corey turned out to be a centerpiece in London’s re-emrgence as a league power. He averaged a point a game in his first year, finished fifth in the league in scoring and was named the OHL First-Team All-Rookie squad. Corey improved on those numbers in 2002–03, with 25 goals and 53 assists in 67 regular season games. However, he was a streaky player who required some more seasoning before he was ready for the next level. Even so, he had shown enough to merit a first-round pick in the NHL Draft. The Ducks selected him 28th and decided to keep him with the Knights until he showed a little more.
The Ducks had acquired the pick from the Dallas Stars in exchange for two second-rounders. They had already taken Ryan Getzlaf with the 19th pick. From that moment on, the perception around hockey was that Getzlaf was the man, and Corey was the wingman.
A few months later, during the 2003–04 season, the Ducks and Oilers were talking trade. Anaheim wanted Mike Comrie. They offered Corey, and Edmonton accepted. There was just one minor hitch. The Oilers felt that the 23-year-old Comrie should pay them back $2.5 million of his signing bonus. Comrie refused, and the trade fell through.
It was the best deal the Ducks never made. In his third year with the Knights, Corey had the breakthrough season many scouts were expecting. He scored 40 goals and added 73 assists for a total of 113 points in 66 games. He netted seven more goals in the playoffs. Corey was rewarded with a call-up to Anaheim’s top farm club, in Cincinnati, where he got into three playoff games and scored a goal. After the season, Corey was named an OHL First-Team All-Star.
The 2004–05 season found Corey on the Knights for the fourth year in a row. By this time, London had accumulated a huge amount of talent and experience. The result was a juggernaut team that included several future NHL players, including Corey’s younger brother, Adam, who played left wing. Also on the club was Dale Hunter’s son, Dylan, and future Chicago Blackhawks star Dave Bolland.
Led by Corey’s 47 goals and 83 assists, the Knights went 59–7–2–0 and roared through the Memorial Cup playoffs to become OHL champions. Corey netted an additional 11 goals and 27 assists in 18 postseason contests. The Knights swept Sidney Crosby’s Rimouski club in the final behind goalie Adam Dennis. Corey was punched in the head early in the game by a Roumiski player. Although he skated well, he doesn’t remember too many details of the contest.
This victory actually marked the second championship for Corey in 2005. Earlier in the season, he was a member of Canada’s World Junior Championships squad. Playing with Getzlaf and skating on the same line as Crosby and Patrice Bergeron, Corey got his first taste of top-level competition and held his own. He scored the opening goal in an 8–1 wipeout of Finland and played well in victories over the Czech Republic and Russia in the semis and finals. Along with his gold medal, Ryan added the OHL MVP Award, the Powers Trophy as the OHL’s top scorer, and his second straight First-Team All-Star nod.
Corey made the Ducks to begin the 2005–06 season, but early in the year he and Getzlaf were farmed out to the Portland Pirates so they could get more ice time. Corey netted 16 goals in 19 games and added 18 assists. He was recalled by Anaheim in January and stayed with the club the rest of the way. The Ducks finished strong with 43 wins and made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals behind Teemu Selanne, Andy McDonald and Jean-Sebastian Giguere.
Corey played in 56 regular season games, scoring 13 goals and assisting on 12 others. He was held goal-less in the playoffs, but he contributed three assists in 11 appearances. He did not play in five of the Ducks' playoff contests.
ON THE RISE
Corey was a member of Anaheim’s "Kid Line" in 2006–07. He teamed with Getzlaf and left wing Dustin Penner to form an extremely productive trio. They combined for 71 goals in 82 games, with Corey contributing 17 along with 27 assists. More important, they wore opponents out with their scrappy play. The Ducks—they officially dropped the Mighty before the season—racked up 110 points and won their first Pacific Division title.
Anaheim’s strength was its balanced offense. Corey was the team’s eighth-leading scorer during the season. In the playoffs, he was tied for second. Anaheim faced the Minnesota Wild in the opening round. With five minutes left in Game 1 and the score knotted 1–1, Corey swept up a loose puck in front of the Minnesota goal and shoveled it to Penner, who poked it in for the game-winner. The Ducks took the next two games, and then finished off the Wild in Game 5 for the series win. Corey peppered the net with shots in the finale, scoring his first playoff goal in the process.
The Ducks played Vancouver in the next round. Exhausted by a seven-game war with the Stars, the Canucks never really go it going in the series. Their only victory was a 2–1 overtime decision in Game 2. Corey was the man in Game 3. His slap shot in the third period tore past Roberto Luongo and broke a 2–2 tie. Anaheim followed this 3–2 victory with two overtime wins to close out the series. This set up a showdown with the top-seeded Detroit Wings. A trip to the Stanley Cup Finals was on the line.
The first two games in the series turned on weird plays. Detroit won the opener at home, 2–1, with both goals bouncing in off Anaheim defensemen. The Ducks got a lucky game-tying goal two days later when Dominik Hasek fell back into his own goal with the puck on his leg pad. Scott Niedermayer scored the game-winner in overtime to even the series at one game apiece.
The series shifted to Anaheim, where the fans were quieted by a 5–0 victory by the Red Wings. The Ducks showed great resilience in winning Game 4. After squandering a 3–1 lead, Getzlaf flicked in a perfectly placed wrist shot from the blue line, and Rob Niedermayer added an empty netter. His brother Scott played hero again in Game 5. His goal with under a minute left tied the score 1–1. With the Detroit fans screaming for blood, the Ducks waited patiently for the Red Wings to make a mistake in overtime. A turnover in the Detroit end ended up on Selanne’s stick, and he scored on a backhand to give Anaheim a miraculous win—and a 3–2 series lead.
The Ducks won Game 6 at home, 4–3. Corey scored the game’s second goal. It was his second of the series. Both tallies came in Anaheim wins.
The Ducks may have been a surprise participant in the NHL Finals, but so were their opponents, the Ottawa Senators. Ottawa had shocked both the New Jersey Devils and the Buffalo Sabres in the playoffs. With home ice belonging to Anaheim, however, the experts were giving the edge to the Ducks.
Anaheim did not disappoint. The Ducks erased two deficits on the way to a 3–2 win in Game 1, with Corey assisting on the tgame-tying goal by Getzlaf in the third period. The Ducks won Game 2, 1–0. The key to this victory was Anaheim’s stifling defense against Ottawa’s top line of Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson.
The Senators fought back to win Game 3 in Ottawa. The Ducks wasted a goal by Corey that put them ahead in the second period. He also assisted on another go-ahead goal, but Giguere just didn’t have it in goal. He was better in Game 4 as the Ducks won 3–2 to put a death grip on the series.
Back in Anaheim, the Ducks destroyed the Senators, 6–2. Corey assisted on a first-period goal and slid in an empty-netter at the end of the game—the final goal of the Ducks’ first championship season.
The Ducks were unsuccessful in their bid to defend their Stanley Cup. In fact, they didn’t even win their division, finishing second to the San Jose Sharks and being knocked out of the playoffs by their other division rival, the Stars. Corey, however, continued to improve his game. During the regular season, he scored 29 goals and had 25 assists, and got an unexpected invitation to the All-Star Game as an injury replacement. Corey’s 54 points actually ranked second on the team.
Corey took another step forward in 2008–09. He led the Ducks with 32 goals. His 40 assists gave him a total of 72 points—second on the club. By season’s end, Corey was viewed around the league as a true difference-maker. He could influence games with his skating, shooting, passing and—perhaps most significantly—his ability to get under the skin of Anaheim’s opponents.
Things didn’t improve appreciably for the team in 2008–09, at least not in the regular season. The Ducksbarely won a battle for the West’s final postseason spot, which earned them a first-round match-up with the best team in the West, the Sharks. Only three teams in history had ever knocked off the President’s Cup winner in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Ducks made it four with a rousing six-game victory. Corey scored in two of his team’s wins, including the game-tying tally in the finale. Anaheim gave Detroit a scare in the second round, extending the Red Wings to seven games before falling 4–3 on a heartbreaking goal. With three minutes left in Game 7 and the score tied 3–3, Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller lost the puck and bumped it across the goal line to give Detroit the series. Corey played well against the Wings, scoring the deciding goal in Game 6 and netting another in Game 7. In all, he scored eight times and had six assists in two postseason series.
MAKING HIS MARK
The Ducks failed to capitalize on the brief momentum they built at the end of 2009 and struggled to play .500 hockey until the end of the 2009–10 campaign. Anaheim finished out of the playoff picture despite another wonderful season from Corey. He began the year with a team-record 19-game point-scoring streak and ended it with team-high 76 points. He also led the Ducks in penalty minutes. Corey’s 27 goals were second-most on the club behind Bobby Ryan, and his 49 assists were one shy of Getzlaf’s 50.
It was a busy winter for Corey, who joined Team Canada in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics. He scored goals in victories over Finland and Russia to help his country reach the final. In the gold medal game versus the United States, Corey made the score 2–0 with a goal assisted by Getzlaf and Duncan Keith. As time wound down, it looked like this would be the golden goal, but Zach Parise evened the score in the final moments to send the game into overtime. Sidney Crosby saved the day with a goal midway through the first overtime.
The Ducks went into battle in 2010–11 with a good group of playmakers, a young goalie and veterans like Selanne, Lydman and Saku Koivu to lead the way. The results in the early going were mixed—Anaheim was playing well but inconsistently—resulting in little more than a break-even record. The fans at the Honda Center did have one thing to cheer about every night. Corey continued his startling evolution into one of the best all-around contributors in the NHL. As the year progressed, he was among the Top 10 in goals and points, and headed for a potential 100-point season.
Corey was picked to play in the NHL All-Star Game and won the Shootout competition in the SuperSkills Challenge. He was the only player to score on every attempt. Anaheim fans enjoyed the second half of the regular season as much as Corey enjoyed his All-Star weekend. The Ducks improved their play and finished with 47 victories, which was good for a second-place finish in the Pacific Division and fourth overall in the West. Corey picked up his play, too, and was closing in on a 50-goal, 100-point season as the season wound down to its final week.
Corey had 47 goals and 93 points—and had netted 16 goals in 13 games—when the Ducks met the Sharks on April 6. He scored once in the first period and twice in the second, getting number 50 on a nice pass from Selanne. Corey also assisted on a goal by Cam Fowler, giving him 97 points. He added one more assist before the season ended, coming up just short of a triple-digit campaign. Still, his 50 goals led the NHL, earning him the Rocket Richard Trophy. The first year the trophy was given out was 1998–99. That year Selanne won it, scoring 47 goals for Anaheim.
The Ducks’ promising spring ended in disappointment, as they lost to the Nashville Predators in the opening round of the playoffs. The series was knotted at 2–2 with the Ducks hosting Game 5. But Anaheim blew a 3–2 lead late in the third period and lost in overtime. Corey had a great chance to score in the second period, but Pekka Rinne plucked his shot out of the air with a terrific close-range glove save. The Ducks lost two days later in Nashville to conclude their season.
Despite Anaheim’s early exit, Corey can look back on the 2010-11 season with great pride. With the Ducks building what they hope is a conference power, he provides the type of all-around production and leadership Anaheim needs from its core of young stars.
COREY THE PLAYER
Few NHL players are more worrisome when they’re near the goal than Corey. He is clever, tough, talented and he knows his job. Paired with equally hardworking Ryan Getzlaf, they are a linemate match made in heaven. A couple of years ago, Corey was considered to be a potential sidekick to Getzlaf, but those roles may one day be reversed.
Corey is a coach’s dream. He identifies and exploits any weakness he sees in an opponent. And if he can’t find one, well, Corey might just create one. He's not above flopping if it he thinks it will draw a referee's whistle.
Corey’s quick reactions and anticipation make him a valuable man on the power play. He has the ideal combination of size, speed and spirit to complement his tremendous skills and hockey sense. Add to that his talent for being a supreme pest, and you have one of the most complete players in the game.
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