David Perron’s hockey life turn upside down earlier this month. After spending the last season-and-a-half with the Edmonton Oilers, he was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins, moving from lottery balls to Stanley Cup dreams.
Since joining the Penguins and being placed on Sidney Crosby’s line, the 26-year old Perron has excelled, registering four goals and five points through five games.
That’s the Crosby effect: Get yourself in position and he'll find you. Perron deemed one pass he received from the Penguins captain in his debut as “probably the best pass I've ever received.”
Perron has quickly seen his offensive chances increase since the trade as you'd imagine. He's recorded at least four shots a game since the trade after only reaching that number six times in 38 games with the Oilers in 2014-15.
We spoke with Perron on Friday afternoon about the trade, the losing in Edmonton and how a 2010 concussion changed his game.
Q. Now that you’re five games in with the Penguins, after being on the outside for so long, what has surprised you about the team?
PERRON: "Obviously, I knew the skill level on the team with the top guys, but there’s a lot more than those two. There’s a support group of guys on the backend and on the forward side that allowed them to be making the plays that they need and the guys are putting it away and scoring goals. It’s fun to be joining a group like that, you come in the room and you feel that the group’s really confident. I just try and fit in anyway I can."
How different was this trade for you compared to the St. Louis-to-Edmonton one?
"The first time is different. I feel like I’m part of this team from the first day I came in, where in Edmonton in the summer it probably took me two, three weeks before I stopped saying 'we' talking about the Blues and now I already feel like I’m part of the group. Moving forward I want to earn the trust of my teammates and the coaches and everyone around to do more and to keep going forward, and that’s by working hard and try to play well as much as I can."
How much did having [Penguins assistant coach] Gary Agnew here help in the transition?
"Ags is a guy I had in St. Louis, he was [one of the] forward coaches. Coming in here I thought he would be in the same role, but he’s the coach of the defenseman, so it’s good to have a familiar face around. Same with [Kris Letang], I knew him a little bit from the summer. Everyone has been really welcoming, going out to dinners and hanging out on days off. It’s been a lot of fun."
You mentioned when you first arrived in Pittsburgh you were ready to start winning. That year and a half in Edmonton, the lack of success, did that a toll on you personally?
"It was really hard, for sure, mentally. It’s hard on the guys that are there right now. They’re doing everything they can to get out of it. You’re just so emotionally and physically involved that even though I was extremely excited to join [Pittsburgh], it’s not like you gave up on the other one when you were there. I still was giving 100-percent every single night, every single day trying to get the team out of it. It certainly was draining. At times I felt like I think I could have maybe more of a role somewhere else and that’s what I got so far here and hopefully I take advantage of it."
You’ve stayed pretty healthy since that concussion in 2010 took you out for over a year. Do you still feel any lingering effects these years later?
"No. I think you’re more aware of your body, though. Your neck’s stiff or your shoulder, and sometimes you wonder if it gives you a bit of a headache or something, but you know what it’s coming from. That’s why you don’t worry about it so much. I think on the ice you just try to play smart. I try to finish every single check, but as far as the fighting goes, I think it’s something, of course if it’s to defend a teammate I’ll have to do it, but I think it’s something that there’s just no point in trying to break your hand or get a concussion. I think sometimes when you’re in a scrum or someone chases you down a little bit your body gets going a little bit more, but at the end of the day when I make the right decision I’m happy that I did that."
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