In an unsurprising yet still kind of melancholy move, the Anaheim Ducks have bought out the last two years of Corey Perry’s pricey contract, making him an unrestricted free agent for the offseason. Perry, the 34-year-old winger, played his whole 14-year career with Anaheim, and he leaves the franchise as one of its most beloved players ever—a Stanley Cup winner in 2007, a Hart Trophy winner in 2011, and the Ducks’ all-time leader in games played.
“This is one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make in my 44 years in the NHL,” said Ducks GM Bob Murray. “Corey gave everything to this franchise for 14 years, never giving an inch to his competitors. While his scoring touch became undeniable, his will to win became his greatest attribute.”
The normally durable Perry missed the first several months of last season with a knee injury, and came back in February to only play 31 games, score six goals, and notch four assists as the Ducks missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012. The Anaheim era defined by the trio of Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ryan Kesler was already unofficially over, as both Ryans have also seen dips in performance of late. But the team is now very clearly in the hands of cornerstone goaltender John Gibson and brand-new coach Dallas Eakins.
I frickin’ hated the Ducks when they were top of the Pacific from 2013 to 2017, but in retrospect, I’ll kind of miss this group of trashy dickheads. Perry and Getzlaf’s Ducks were dirty and mean and didn’t care for trifles like honor or respect. They bothered their opponents without getting bothered themselves, and I can’t think of a better tribute to Perry’s time in Anaheim than this Youtube video, made by an enemy, with a very self-explanatory title. (My favorite part is when he fills Jeff Carter’s glove with water.)
Perry doesn’t seem to be thinking about retirement, since he talked after the season ended about getting his knee back to 100 percent for next year. But if the two-time Olympic gold medalist is going to find a new team, it’ll likely be on a bargain deal for an outsider squad that just needs an experienced third or fourth liner. There’s a chance late-career Perry could be something like Thomas Vanek in Detroit or Jason Spezza in Dallas—picking up 30 points or so in limited minutes as a veteran presence in the locker room. But the statements following his departure from Anaheim had the somber tone of a eulogy, with the Ducks owners specifically calling him Hockey Hall of Fame-worthy. Maybe, if he’s healthy, he’ll have a few more years to add to that résumé.