Oh I get it. Believe me, I totally understand it. Chicago Blackhawks fans are grinding their teeth and likely screaming at the heavens after the news of Corey Perry’s one-year, $4M deal.
It’s justified. In fact, it’s understandable. Perry did some pretty sneaky stuff against the Blackhawks during his career and Lord knows he’s sat some games out due to suspension for dirty stuff against other teams.
But there are countless examples in sports history of a one-time nemesis suddenly wearing the home team’s sweater.
But the signing–along with everything else general manager Kyle Davidson said he would do–goes right in line with what he’s said all along.
Blackhawks Staff, Front Office Sees the Value In Adding Perry
Davidson was asked point blank about adding a player like Perry to the roster by the Chicago Sun Times’ Ben Pope, who asked what many fans have been wondering: Why Perry and Foligno when you had Toews and Kane?
Davidson didn’t hesitate with an answer.
“No offense to Corey Perry or Nick Foligno, they’re not Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane,” Davidson said. “Corey was a very, very good player at his peak. But just having those club legends is a little bit different. The opportunity with Nick and hopefully Corey, where they’re here on shorter-term deals, [gives other players] runway to be those leaders and work alongside them.”
The plan continues on as Davidson as said from the onset of when he dealt Kane and said goodbye to Toews without offering a contract extension: the new leadership in the clubhouse must come from the young core being grown and nurtured.
Foligno has his own experience as captain, one who was part of one of the biggest upsets in NHL playoff history. Perry held leadership posts as an Alternate Captain.
Though many Blackhawks fans would see that A sewn on his sweater standing for another word, Perry has leadership chops, too.
Irritation is Justified
But all too often, elbowing others in the chops on the ice has led to suspensions and put his team in bad spots on the ice at times.
It’s there where Blackhawks fans have a very reasonable argument: Corey Perry, the guy who has been suspended for dirty shots, is suddenly a guy you want mentoring the young core?
The answer to that is a complicated one. Davidson cited his coach’s approval, saying that Luke Richardson really advocated for Perry who was great to have on a Montreal team that went to a Stanley Cup Final in 2021. Sandwiched between that were two other appearances, all three of which Perry lost. But he’s hoisted it once back in 2017, when he was a youngster.
Richardson is hardly one to run an undisciplined bench or back a player who will teach his young core the wrong things.
Perry does have experience–on extreme ends of his career–that he’ll bring to Chicago.
“[He’s] been in the league quite some time, knows what it takes to win, knows how to be a great professional and then also has some background and some history with our head coach,” Davidson said. “[Richardson] saw how he worked with some of their young players and he appreciated that. Saw a great benefit in what Corey did, so we’re going to try to extract some of that benefit as well.”
Perry Will Be Good For the Blackhawks and Bedard
It’s his snarl, and as stated before, what he can bring into the locker room that makes him appealing to the front office and the coaching staff.
“In my opinion, having good veterans on short-term [contracts] allows some of those guys who might be here longer to jump into those spaces and therefore use Nick and Corey as resources,” Davidson explained. “[They’ll] help solidify the culture in the locker room in the short term.”
Here’s the rub–none of that guarantees it will work in this situation. Perry and Foligno were both on veteran laden teams pushing for a Stanley Cup. Now it’s a situation where they’re trying to get the organization pointed into that direction. History backs Davidson’s assertion, but hockey can be fickle with the fortunes its bestows.
Blackhawks fans can taunt and hoot and holler should it fail miserably. Perry is nearing the end of his career and his numbers aren’t what they once were. In fact, it’s not really the production that is ultimately bringing him to Chicago.
Maybe when he scores a game-winner or has a big hit that springs a play the other way it’ll soften that hatred a bit. Or if he goes out there and tears the head off of an opponent who runs Bedard–that’ll help put some points to the good column with the fans.
The confusion and even the irritation is understandable–and justified.
But maybe down the road should Bedard be doing his postgame interview after winning the Stanley Cup, fans can shrug and smirk if one of the veterans the humble Bedard thanks happens to be Perry.
Maybe then, his sins will be forgiven.