On June 19th it was officially announced that the Anaheim Ducks bought out the remaining two years of Corey Perry’s contract. A fan favorite in Anaheim for well over a decade, it was truly one of the darker days in the history of the Anaheim Ducks. Thanked for his dedication and service as a Duck, at the end of the day, Perry was left to fend for himself in free agency as he becomes a free agent for the first time in his career. Although it is strange thinking of Perry as something other than a Duck, this buyout has clearly demonstrated the tough side of the hockey business that often has no time for memories and personalities.
Corey Perry was drafted by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim nearly 16 years ago today. Shortly after the selection of his “twin”, Ryan Getzlaf (who will probably remain a Duck for the remainder of his career), Perry was in a Mighty Ducks sweater and immediately became an era defining player on their roster.
From his rookie season in 2006 through his career defining 2011 season in which he won the Hart Memorial Trophy, Rocket Richard Trophy, and tallied his one and only 50-goal season to date, Perry amassed an incredible 369 points in 450 games.
From his 2011 season on, Perry’s performance slowly began to slide but he remained a threat on the ice constantly for a number of years. There is no way the Ducks would have been nearly as successful without the play of Corey Perry. One of the two faces that represented the Anaheim Ducks, his gritty yet delicate style of play brought many happy moments to Ducks fans for many years. A player that opposing fan bases loved to hate, part of that hatred came from the fact that at some point or another Perry had successfully burned an opposing roster either through a goal, assist, or fight. The true beauty of Perry’s abilities was that he could do any or all of it on any given night.
As the years wore on with the Ducks coming close to finding another Stanley Cup, Perry’s health began to decline which saw his performance on the ice take a steep drop starting in the 2016-17 season. In this prior season, his final with the Ducks, Perry only played 31 games and racked up a measly 10 points in those games.
In a phase of transition, the Ducks were beginning to look into cutting costs and bringing in the next era of Ducks hockey. An era promising fast goal scoring and quick puck moving abilities. These aren’t necessarily traits of Perry’s as he plays a grittier, more old-fashioned style of offense. Not to say that style is bad as it has gotten him his 776 points and 372 goals but it’s just not what the Ducks are looking for anymore. Their new forward group that will define the Ducks for the next 13 years are fast, young, and focused on goals first.
As each day passed, it became clearer that Perry wasn’t fitting the desired style the Ducks were looking to adopt and either a trade or a buyout of his rather expensive contract became imminent.
Corey Perry signed an 8-year, $69 million contract in 2013. The Ducks had put everything they had into their two stars as Getzlaf and Perry were entering their prime days. It was definitely worth it as the Ducks came so close to glory multiple times and from 2013 through 2016 were the favorites to win it all. Although they added five straight division titles to their accomplishments from 2013 to 2017, they could never get over that final hump.
As that short-lived era of powerhouse Ducks hockey began to fade, so did their window for a Cup and because of that, it became more and more obvious that the Ducks were going to need to undergo a small and hopefully short rebuild.
Rebuilds are usually defined by losses on the ice, wins in the draft, and expenses being thrown to the curb. Corey Perry’s $8.625 million contract became the Ducks most glaring expense. Starting in the 2018-19 season, which was Anaheim’s worst since 2012, general manager Bob Murray began to look for a trade involving Corey Perry to free up a great deal of cap space. Taking on the expensive contract of Perry’s wouldn’t be too enticing for pretty much every other NHL club so a trade would be difficult.
To provide some comparison, the Toronto Maple Leafs recently traded an older and increasingly expensive Patrick Marleau to the Carolina Hurricanes in an effort to free up some much-needed money that was intended to resign some key players. They succeeded in doing such a trade, but it came at the cost of a first-round draft pick as well. The Maple Leafs, as they’re chasing their first Cup in 52 years, can afford to give up a first rounder. The Ducks on the other hand, can’t really afford to give something of that caliber up.
If the asking price to take on Marleau’s contract, which sits at a pretty $6.250 million until 2020, was a first round pick, the Ducks surely would have had to give up the same or more for another team to take on Perry’s contract which is more expensive by over two million dollars per year. Giving up much needed picks just isn’t in the stars for the Ducks.
As a trade wasn’t working out, Bob Murray was left no choice but to buy out Perry’s contract and effectively end his 13-year tenure with the Ducks. A tough decision but a necessary one.
According to AnaheimDucks.com, on the subject of being left no choice but to buy out his contract, Bob Murray stated, “It's one of the toughest things I've done. It's tough. The guy epitomized what we've been for the last 14 years. I procrastinated forever, but as we turn the corner with this team, it's the best thing for us and for him. I know in my heart it was best.”
Henry and Susan Samueli, owners of the Ducks since 2005, stated, “On behalf of the entire Ducks organization, we want to thank Corey Perry for his tremendous contributions to the franchise. For many years Corey has epitomized what it means to be a Duck, playing an aggressive, relentless game while being a compassionate and giving member of the Orange County community.”
As the Ducks turn the page and look to the future with a young new group of players collected through the draft, it is difficult to imagine a Ducks game without Corey Perry on the roster. A necessary decision that had to be made for the betterment of the franchise, that doesn’t make all of it any easier.
A Stanley Cup champion, Hart Trophy winner, Rocket Richard Trophy winner, four-time NHL All-Star, two Olympic gold medals, most games played as a Duck in franchise history at 988, and one of just two players ever – with the other being noted Duck, Scott Niedermayer – to win a Stanley Cup, World Junior Championship, World Cup Championship, and Olympic gold medal. Corey Perry is a champion of champions and will surely add another accolade as his number 10 will hang from the rafters of “The Pond” one day.
Lastly, as a life-long Ducks fan myself, I would like to thank Perry for everything he has done for the Ducks franchise. You represented Anaheim proudly for many years and are certainly one of the greatest Ducks to ever play. You were the face of the franchise for quite some time and will always be remembered as an era defining name for the Ducks. I can’t wait to attend your jersey retirement ceremony and see you inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Best of luck in the future wherever that is, and I think I speak for many other Ducks fans when I say I’ll be rooting, just a little bit, for any other team you play for.