Edmonton's Corey Perry gets another chance at second Stanley Cup 17 years after winning his first

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Corey Perry won his first Stanley Cup championship in his second NHL season with the Anaheim Ducks. Seventeen years later, he is still looking for ring No. 2. It is not for lack of trying.

The veteran Edmonton forward is about to play in his fourth Cup final in the last five years after falling short as a member of the Dallas Stars, Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning. He is the first NHL player to play in the final with five different teams. Going 1-3 has sparked chatter about the “Perry Curse” online.

“I never had the opportunity to play for a Stanley Cup (again) until five years ago,” said Perry, who is 39. “So, there was 12 years, 13 years, in between. You never really know if you’re going to get back there. Every year goes by and you’re out in the first round, second round, third round. And you’re just like, ‘ugh, maybe next year.’ And they just keep adding up.”

The Oilers open this year's final in Florida against the Panthers on Saturday night.

Perry spent 14 years in Anaheim, collecting 776 points across 988 games. A two-time first-team All-Star, he won the Hart and the Maurice Richard trophies after his 50-goal, 98-point season in 2010-11. He is among the select group of players to win a Cup, Olympic gold (twice) and a world championship for Team Canada.

By now familiar with reaching the final, this is the first time Perry can savor being on a Canadian team at the pinnacle of the sport. Sure, he was with the Canadiens in 2021 when they came back from 3-1 deficit in the first round against Toronto and lost to Tampa Bay in the final. But games then were played in empty or nearly empty arenas because of the pandemic.

“When I was in Montreal, it was COVID …. I think we had 3,000 or 4,000 fans, that was it in a place like the Bell Centre," Perry told the Canadian Press. "It’s not quite the same. It’s a different atmosphere, a different animal, when you have fans.”

Perry has lost three Cup finals in the last half-decade, but he isn’t alone. Adam Henrique, Mattias Janmark and Mattias Ekholm are among the Oilers who have fallen short in finals. They hope that experience can drive them to victory this time.

Henrique was a rookie when he got to his first final. He was part of a New Jersey Devils team that lost to Los Angeles in 2012. At the time, he was naive about just how hard it is to get that far.

“You think we’ll just be in the playoffs next year and hopefully get back here and get another opportunity,” Henrique said. “But that doesn’t happen. There’s a lot that goes in behind the scenes and with contract situations. There is so much that changes team to team, every single year. To be here and go on a run has been a lot of fun.”

The Panthers, of course, lost the 2023 final to Vegas. It was not a close series. The Golden Knights won it in five — and three of the four wins were blowouts. Will Florida be able to take that experience forward?

“Experience is good,” Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch. “I don’t know how much experience is beneficial. You can ask the Buffalo Bills how important Super Bowl experience is.”

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