DETROIT — The routine becomes monotonous.
Arrive at an airport that looks like all the others. Stay in a hotel that looks like all the others. Play in an arena that looks like all the others. Return to Chicago.
So when the season ends, and Brendan Perlini finally has the time to see what makes every city unique — what else exists in North America other than O’Hare and some Marriotts — he takes it.
Contract uncertainty? That’s a future problem.
“We travel all year long, but we don’t really get to see too much when we come into these places, so why not in the summertime?” Perlini said. “If you can work it in where you can train with this specific [person] out in Arizona or Utah or wherever, then yeah, let’s go do it. Let’s go see the city and get new experiences. That’s part of life.”
The 23-year-old winger’s willingness to break outside the typical NHL player mold is nothing new, but the fact he found this motivation while his hockey career faced a critical moment — albeit one he had little personal control over — might be the most Perlini thing yet.
His contract expired July 1st. Although he was issued a qualifying offer, keeping him a restricted free agent, he didn’t sign until Sept. 6, one week before training camp, for the same salary as his QO.
Agent Darren Ferris was negotiating all the while with Hawks general manager Stan Bowman, yet Perlini essentially told Ferris to just do his thing.
“I’d get the odd update from him, but . . . it’s really the same stuff every day,” Perlini said, chuckling. “Regardless of whether you sign the first day after the season or the first day of training camp, a contract’s a contract.”
In the meantime, Perlini — naturally global, as a dual English and Canadian citizen playing in the U.S. — traveled.
A 10-day golf trip with his dad in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. A week in Toronto, working with a movement specialist. Three days at Niagara Falls.
Two weeks in Arizona, his old home base, mixing together on-ice training sessions, tennis games and hiking excursions. Two more weeks in Detroit. A visit to Chicago for the Blackhawks Convention, even while technically unemployed.
And finally, a stay at “home” in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, a small town that Perlini loves to joke about.
“I’ve been off social media a lot — well, partly because our connection up there in ‘the Soo’ sucks,” he chaffed at the convention.
“If you didn’t go back for 20 years,” he said Monday, “it’d be all the same people doing the same stuff.”
So Perlini certainly enters training camp refreshed. He has needed it, as the Hawks brought in a number of new forward depth competitors while he was in limbo.
He generated some promising-looking opportunities in the preseason opener Monday but failed to convert, and Jeremy Colliton later downplayed them as mere “mini-chances.” Still, the coach seemed pleased with Perlini’s skating, long a strong suit.
“He was getting in on the forecheck and creating some havoc, he won some races, [and] he was flying through the neutral zone without the puck,” Colliton said.
Undeniably, Perlini wants to make this team, wants to earn the biggest role he can. He’s quick to clarify, when detailing his vacations, that they were all planned around his training schedule.
But it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that he’s not exactly stressing about his fate.
“As long as you give it your best shot and play, that’s all that matters,” he said. “I’m not going to sit and worry about it and bite my nails over it.”