Perry says heated discussion seen on bench was about bringing ‘out the best’ in Oilers

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The Edmonton Oilers have already guaranteed themselves a spot in the NHL playoffs and are sitting in second place in the Pacific Division, but coming into Wednesday’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights, the team’s players are focused on fine-tuning their game ahead of the post-season.

“Stuff is getting real,” Oilers winger Corey Perry said after a team practice at Rogers Place on Monday. “Going forward, you’re going to have to get better and emotions are going to get higher and intensity’s going to get higher … anxiety levels are going to get higher as we move along here. It’s how you manage those.”

Perry was speaking to reporters after being asked about a moment on the Oilers’ bench during Saturday night’s game against the Calgary Flames. A television camera showed Perry appearing visibly agitated while speaking with Evander Kane, who has often been playing on a line with Perry as of late.

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“Brothers fight,” Perry said of the exchange. “It’s just trying to bring out the best in everybody.

“We weren’t playing our best hockey and … frustration and emotions boiled over.”

The exchange was seen near the end of the second period during a close game against the Oilers’ provincial rivals. A number of hockey commentators have speculated that Perry’s ire may have been provoked by a pass Kane attempted on a previous play that ended up on a Flames player’s stick.

“We’re fine,” Kane said when asked about the discussion that was seen but not heard on television. He added that Perry is his partner for a golf pool the two are taking part in.

“Everything’s public when you play in Canada, right? Conversations and frustrations happen all the time. I think the world we live in, everyone’s very sensitive and safe. … Two veteran guys show a little emotion and people are uncomfortable. But I think with me and him, we’re the least uncomfortable in those situations.”

Perry was a member of the 2007 Anaheim Ducks team that won the Stanley Cup. He also played in Stanley Cup finals in three straight seasons with three different teams between 2020 and 2022.

“That’s what makes a team work, right?” he said of being frank with teammates at times. “That’s how you win. You hold everybody accountable. You push everybody’s buttons. You do whatever you have to do to get the best out of everybody.

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“At that point (during Saturday’s game), it was something him and I had, but it could be anybody. It doesn’t matter who it is, you’re just trying to be better and win each game.”

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Perry joined the Oilers in January when he signed with the club as a free agent. When asked on Monday if he believes his role is partly to mentor players on how to win, he indicated that he does not shy away from giving advice but added “there’s a lot of experience here.”

“(This team has already) had big moments on big stages,” Perry said, referring to the Oilers reaching the Western Conference Final in 2022.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton Oilers sign veteran forward Corey Perry'
Edmonton Oilers sign veteran forward Corey Perry

“In the playoffs, everything’s under a microscope,” Perry said. “A 3-2 game could be a Game 7 and all of a sudden your season’s over. So you eliminate those (mistakes) now. … You try to get those out of your game. … We’ve been doing a pretty good job.”

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Oilers forward Corey Perry speaks to reporters in Edmonton on April 8, 2024. Global News

Kane said exchanges like the one between him and Perry on Saturday are not uncommon in the NHL and that it was simply something that happened in “the heat of the moment.”

“When it’s over, it’s over, and you move on and get ready for the next play, the next shift.”

Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch was also asked about his players’ conversation on Monday and said while setting a high standard is something that should start with him, “it’s more powerful when the players are setting that standard.”

“I think it’s very important they hold each other accountable, and sometimes there’s outbursts.”

Knoblauch added in an ideal situation, those conversations would happen in a locker-room and not in front of the public eye.

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He added that there are times a coach may need to intervene in disagreements, but he saw that Perry and Kane “sorted it out right away.”

“Things were OK after.”

Kane said especially after seeing some very good NHL teams struggle in recent weeks, the Oilers “obviously want to feel good heading into the playoffs” and have their game in “tip-top shape.”

“But at the same time, when the regular season ends and the playoffs start, it’s a clean slate. It’s a new season. … It’s all about what you do in Game 1, Game 2, Game 3 and so on.”

Oilers forward Evander Kane speaks to reporters in Edmonton on April 8, 2024. Global News

The Oilers will face the Golden Knights at Rogers Place on Wednesday night.

The Knights are currently holding onto the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference playoff race but with 92 points already this season, the team could still move up the playoff order if it delivers results in its final five games.

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The Oilers and Knights both sport 6-3-1 records in their past 10 games but Edmonton is currently on a two-game winning streak while Vegas is on a two-game losing streak.

You can listen to Wednesday night’s game between the Oilers and the Knights live on 630 CHED, beginning with The Faceoff Show at 5 p.m. The actual game begins at 6:30 p.m.

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