We, as fans, almost never get one over on the villains in our various sports. Of course, they’re out there, we’re up here, so the natural dynamic of the whole relationship is that we’re losers. That’s understood.
We get past that, but the bad guy in sports almost always wins. And it isn’t just about the all-time greats who just happen to be hated by most, like Tom Brady or Draymond Green. It’s the plugs on the fourth line too that took cheap shots at your favorite players for years, sent your arena into hysterics with some sort of hijinx, that eventually wins the playoff series and you have to sit there and watch your team shake his fucking hand like they wouldn’t want to rip it off and beat him over the head with it.
The list of assholes I’ve watched lift the Cup is far longer than the Dead Sea Scrolls. The St. Louis Blues as a whole three years ago was enough to knock the last decade off my life. You’d be hard-pressed to find a hockey fan who didn’t taste their lunch for a second or third time watching Tom Wilson get his grubby mitts on it the year before. That’s just a sampling.
But sometimes… sometimes… you get to watch someone get what they deserve in the most vindictive, childish, and yet karmic fashion. I could watch Corey Perry’s stupid fucking hang-dog face in the handshake line last night for years on end, and it would fill me with oxygen and life force to live forever:
I defy you to find a hockey fan that doesn’t hate Perry with every fiber of their being. Oh sure, if you can find a Ducks fan in the wild (and I doubt you can), they’ll tell you he’s an Orange County hero, a phrase that tells you everything you need to know about a person and place. Maybe you can find a Stars or Canadiens or Lightning fan that barely stomached his presence for a season and will try to convince you while really trying to convince themselves, “Oh, I get it now. Watching him every game you really see the effe….”
And it’s a load of horseshit. They hate themselves for even trying to dry hump the word out of their mouth. You can see their entire being deflate behind their eyes for even trying to take a pro-Perry position, even the theory of one, for just a matter of seconds. It’s why that sentence above dies of exhaustion and dehydration way before completion. It’s built on nothing.
Perry has been a shitbag for his entire career. His vacant face trying to hide the thousands of punches to the back of someone’s head, or the spears to the gut during scrums, or the hits from behind, or whatever other misdeed he could think of as long as it was behind an official’s back and his opponents weren’t looking. What was even more infuriating about Perry is he never answered for any of it, despite being 6-3 and 206 pounds. Any number of his teammates had to clean up his mess despite being smaller, because Perry could hide behind his stature of top line scorer.
And Perry was a dominant scorer, once upon a time. Even an MVP. Even now, he put up very good numbers for a bottom six winger who can fill in higher up the lineup when you need him to. On paper, Perry is a good player to have.
But as the Ducks learned, counting on Perry when it mattered was the best way to hand up with nothing but a handful of yourself. As the Ducks tripped and fell into a manhole every Game 7 at home, you couldn’t find Perry or his fellow disappearing act/rat-eating connoisseur Ryan Getzlaf with a drone and CIA backing. Whether it was the Kings or Hawks or Wings or Predators, all of whom gleefully skipped in and out of The Pond with a laughably easy deciding game win, all of them could find players willing to step up to the moment while Perry watched it go by him, flailing his stick at someone’s jaw just to assure everyone he was still in fact breathing.
Except now, he’s a curse. He’s always been, but it’s completely out in the open and breathtaking. Perry has lost three straight Cup Finals, with three different teams, as he more nakedly ring-chases than Karl Malone. He’s put in all that time, all that work, and three seasons in a row he’s had to stand there and watch someone else celebrate. Even more infuriating is that Perry doesn’t need to ring-chase, as apparently he has one. There is some record of the Ducks winning in 2007, except you can’t find anyone who remembers or witnessed it. Apparently it happened.
Every so often, you get one up on the villain even though we don’t play. You get to watch Perry lose a third Final in a row, know that he’ll carry the label that Marian Hossa had to and then quickly shed because Hossa was an actual winner, and make it his own. Teams will actually be cautious of signing Perry now, because that’s how hockey works. He’s the reverse Pat Maroon, and the only player that could stop Maroon’s streak was Perry. It may be what he’s best known for when he retires, which it should be.
Hockey fans around the world are going to chop up these images of yet another Perry failure and snort it. There is joy out there, people. Just have to be patient.