When you have won every major title and medal there is to win in hockey it is pretty tough to add to your resume.
OHL championship: Check
Memorial Cup: Check
Stanley Cup: Check
World Junior gold: Check
World Cup: Check
World Championship gold: Check
Olympic gold: Check and check again
Former London Knight Corey Perry is one of just two players to compile a list like that in the game of hockey. Perry’s former teammate Scott Niedermayer is the only other person to tick all of the boxes.
And on Wednesday night in Calgary, Alta., Perry joined Niedermayer on another very exclusive list. Exactly 338 players have reached 1000 games played in the National Hockey League.
“It goes by quick but it’s been fun,” Perry admits, and you can hear both the exhale and a hint of a smile in his voice.
Success and victory are things that some people work hard their whole lives to experience. For Perry, those things have just always been there.
“I still have fond memories of tournaments, of championships as far back as Atom or Pee Wee. But one that stands out was in Bantam at the OHL Cup. It was in Peterborough and it was the draft year to go to the OHL and that’s about where it started.”
Perry is from Peterborough, although he and his wife have called London home for years. It was in London that the hockey world came to know his name on a national level.
His skills had earned raised eyebrows from the time he hit the ice with the Knights as a 16-year old in 2001, yet his final season in 2005 was something out of a movie script. With the NHL locked out, hockey fans turned to major junior to get their hockey fix. Perry and the Knights went 31 games without losing from the beginning of the year and ended it hoisting their Memorial Cup on their home ice. Perry was named OHL playoff MVP and Memorial Cup MVP.
In Perry’s first full season in the NHL he helped the Anaheim Ducks win the Stanley Cup.
Even though he had just turned 22 when that happened Perry still appreciates what it took.
“You try to figure it out each and every year,” Perry says. “You need the right bounces. Injuries come into play. You need the big goal at certain times and you need different people stepping up at different times.
“It’s hard to put into words just how hard it is to accomplish.”
In 2010 he had an ice-level view of Sidney Crosby’s gold medal winning goal, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that Perry gave Canada a lead that nearly won the game well before overtime. Zach Parise tied the score with less than 30 seconds to go in regulation time.
The next year brought the ultimate individual award in the National Hockey League when Perry won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player in 2011.
In 2014 it was a second Olympic Gold. In 2016 Perry captained Team Canada to the World Championship in Russia and got a hug from Russian President Vladimir Putin as he accepted the championship trophy.
“I went to shake his hand and he kind of grabbed the back of my head and gave me a hug and said congratulations. It was quite a moment.”
A couple of months after that Perry joined Team Canada for the World Cup and proceeded to win again.
Getting to 1000 games does not take a big goal or a big save. It takes something much greater. It takes top-end ability and most importantly consistency at that level over a very long period of time.
Perry moved from Anaheim to Dallas in the off-season and is part of a roster that has every chance to win the Stanley Cup this year.
“It has gone by so fast,” Perry admits. “Sometimes you hear people say to take everything in and don’t take anything for granted and I can tell that is a true statement… you never think that’s where you career is going to end up and that’s what you are going to get to do for your life.”
Perry doesn’t seem to be thinking about the end of his playing career just yet. He is soaking in what is happening now and all that he has been a part of so far.
On that distinguished list of players who have made it to 1000 NHL games, 81 of them are in the Hall of Fame. Look for Perry to join that esteemed group whenever he decides to put a close on his incredible career.
For now, he is doing what he has always done. He’s working to help his team win — something Corey Perry has proven to be very good at.