September 09, 2011
The NHL Awards are, in some ways, hockey's answer to high-school yearbook superlatives.
There's the player most likely to succeed (Calder) and the most trustworthy player (Vezina) and the kindest kid in class (Lady Byng).
So, in high-school yearbook terms: Corey Perry(notes) of the Anaheim Ducks was named the NHL's most accomplished student of 2010-11, but watched as Daniel Sedin(notes) of the Vancouver Canucks was crowned homecoming king.
With 50 goals and 48 assists, Perry was awarded the Hart Trophy as League MVP by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Sedin, who had 104 points, was given the Ted Lindsay Award as the League's most outstanding player by members of the NHLPA.
The writers lauded Perry. His peers didn't. Why is that?
"I don't know. I have no idea. That's a tough question," said Perry on Thursday, before a few moments of silent contemplation.
"I played against guys who … that I pissed people off more than I charmed them, I guess. It's just the way it is."
Ask any of his opponents in the NHL and yeah, that's just the way it is with Corey Perry. But the Ducks could care less if Perry is Mr. Popularity.
If he wasn't already, Perry became an elite player in the NHL last season. His torrid scoring down the stretch elevated them to a playoff slot in the Western Conference, and he enters the 2011-12 season looking to eclipse the gaudy numbers from his MVP campaign.
Coming up, Perry on everything from "NHL 12" to suspensions to his grandmother.
PERRY: I know, it's been crazy. To know Rusty, to have played with him for a year [with the Anaheim Ducks], it hits home.
You hear about what went on this summer, and it's definitely sad to see that happen. You pay your respect, you move on. You can't sit and dwell over it. But everyone knows what's happened and now we're trying to figure out why.
Alright, let's talk about last season. In February you had 15 points in 7 games and then in March you had 14 points in 7 games. What's going on off the ice for you during that streak? Was there any superstition?
No. Just living my life, day to day. Things were working, and I wasn't really doing anything different. But one thing was that I was having a lot of fun off the ice with the guys. It was a great time of year, and it's a great group of guys that were in that dressing room. That's what makes it fun every day — that you're enjoying what you do.
Guys were playing at a top level and we were pushing for a playoff spot. We needed the points — two points every night.
We're all big, we're all physical. We all know how each other plays. We all play a similar style. Bobby likes to drive the net and has great hands to beat guys 1-on-1. Getzy slows the pace of the game down, bringing it down to his level and he can find the open man.
Me? I just go get the puck in the corners and then stand in front of the net. It's meat and potatoes for me.
So you won the Hart Trophy last season. I read in the LA Times that your Vegas experience included a bunch of buddies that flew in with you as well as your 88-year-old grandmother. Who's more fun to hang out with in Vegas?
Obviously it's Grandma.
To have her down there was pretty special. She stays up every night to watch hockey games. I'm on the West Coast, she's on the East Coast, so there's a 3-hour time difference. It definitely keeps her up, but she's up at 1 o'clock in the morning yelling at the TV like it was 7 o'clock at night.
She's like my biggest fan, and it was great having her there.
Having so many friends and family in the crowd, was that the reason you got a little more emotional up there than expected accepting the Hart Trophy?
I think so. There had to be 25 or 30 people that were there for me. From family to friends to ex-coaches. To have everybody there was special.
Sometimes I do get a little emotional and that was one of those times.
Did winning the Hart Trophy, which is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, make you feel differently about the media?
[Laughs] Uh … we need you guys and we need the media to help grow our game, and help promote us as athletes and us as people and us as players.
Because as a member of the PHWA, I thought this would be a flat-out bribe, and you'd be our No. 1 fan, going forward.
[Laughs] Of course I am.
On to video games: Do you consider yourself a solid gamer?
Sometimes. I play on and off. As a kid growing up, my brother and I played quite a bit — from regular Nintendo to Sega to N64 to PlayStation and PS3. The first gift under the tree that we unwrapped was always a game, and most likely it would be an NHL game.
Is there a player on the Ducks that thinks he's a better gamer than he is?
On the road, we like playing the NHL games. Playing as ourselves and watching guys play as different teams.
Wait … when you play with your friends, you play as yourself?
Of course. I want to see what I can do out there, see what kind of player they make me as.
What's your best advice for playing NHL 12?
It's so realistic. To play the game as myself, it shows everything that I do on the ice. The new feature — the full contact physics engine — guys are bigger, pushing smaller guys around. Everybody doesn't have the same strength. And if you skate by the goalie, you can clip his knee and he'll fall down and you'll have an open net.
Back to hockey: You throw the body around a little bit; it is frustrating to know that after they enacted the blindside hit rule last season they've tweaked it again? Do you think that's going to lead to confusion?
I don't think so. We need the head shots out of the game. Guys are going to respect that. They know that. We need to make the game a little safer and it's going to be better for everybody involved.
Obviously, some things are accidental. Some things you don't mean to do. It would be up to [the League's] discretion.
I'm 34 and you're 26, but we both grew up watching Brendan Shanahan(notes) and Rob Blake(notes) play in the NHL. Do you think it's going to help the discipline process to have guys who played in the League recently be the ones issuing suspensions?
He's played the game. He knows what he's doing. But a head shot's a head shot. He's in a tough position, for sure, but he's going to make the best of it. From what I hear, they're going to show some video with each suspension, explaining his thought process, and that's going to help some guys too.
Finally, you guys play the Red Wings on Nov. 5. Are you going to ask Pavel Datsyuk to dance?
[Laughs] I don't know. We'll have to see how the game's going. But I highly doubt it.