Corey Perry will mentor Blackhawks’ young players, just like he did with Canadiens, Lightning

Hawks coach Luke Richardson has seen firsthand the impact Perry, at age 38, can have on players half his age. He’ll have to smooth things over with the Hawks’ fan base first, however.

SHARE Corey Perry will mentor Blackhawks’ young players, just like he did with Canadiens, Lightning
Corey Perry with the Lightning.

Corey Perry will provide mentorship to Blackhawks’ youngsters just like he did for the Lightning and Canadiens.

Jeff Roberson/AP file photo

Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson and forward Corey Perry only overlapped for one abbreviated season in Montreal, but they came away from the Canadiens’ 2021 run to the Stanley Cup Final extremely impressed by each other.

So when the Hawks became aware of Perry’s availability this summer, Richardson was eager to reunite with the 38-year-old veteran, and general manager Kyle Davidson was able to make it happen.

‘‘He’s a winner,’’ Richardson said of Perry. ‘‘He’s going to help guys on our team, just like he [helped] guys in Montreal — guys like Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki. He had a big footprint on making them what they are today. That’s why I thought, when they brought [Perry’s] name up, he would be a great fit for us right now.’’

Perry played well in those 2021 playoffs, producing 10 points in 22 games, but Caufield and Suzuki emerged as young stars during those couple of months, with Perry’s influence factoring in. Caufield, who had only 10 games of NHL experience before that postseason, had 12 points in 20 games and Suzuki, in his second NHL season, 16 points in 22.

Richardson also recalled a story in which Perry taught young Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov (who since has been traded to the Islanders) a valuable lesson.

‘‘[Perry would] be in front of the net every day, [practicing] his tips,’’ Richardson said. ‘‘There aren’t two pucks in a row that he doesn’t get a stick on; it’s, like, nine out of 10. [Romanov] was floating in some wristers, and [Perry was] like, ‘Hey, shoot the puck!’ Then [Romanov] ripped one high over the glass, and [Perry] stopped and went out and said: ‘What are you doing? That’s high-sticking. I want it between here and here — and hard.’

‘‘So [Romanov was] getting good instruction. Coaches instruct, but when players and Cup winners like Corey Perry give you direction, that goes a long way.’’

Perry, meanwhile, remembered talking with Caufield and Suzuki about how to handle the daily rigors of the NHL and helping them find their niches in the league and on the Canadiens’ roster.

He still thinks back to his experience as a rookie on the 2005-06 Ducks, receiving advice from players such as Teemu Selanne and Scott and Rob Niedermayer, and tries to pass that along to the next generation.

Connor Bedard surely will be hearing all about it soon. Perry said he already has watched ‘‘many games’’ from Bedard’s junior-hockey career to get a sense of the teenage superstar he soon will help acclimate to the NHL.

‘‘This game goes by fast,’’ Perry said Friday. ‘‘I still remember walking into that [Ducks] dressing room, and they said: ‘Don’t take it for granted. Make sure you remember everything and soak it all in because it goes by fast.’

‘‘I didn’t really understand what they were talking about, but [now I] really do. You really take it in and see what they’re talking about. That’s something I’ll pass on to these young guys.’’

When the Ducks bought out Perry’s contract in 2018, he admitted he wasn’t sure where his career was headed. But he has proved he still can bring substantial value as a mercenary bouncing around the league — from the Stars to the Canadiens to the Lightning — in recent years.

The last two seasons in Tampa, he missed only one of 193 regular-season and postseason games while chipping in some offense (40 and 25 points the last two regular seasons), limiting scoring chances against (his defensive analytics are solid) and annoying and pestering opponents endlessly (as he has for nearly two decades).

The Lightning’s seemingly constant salary-cap constraints meant Perry knew he wouldn’t return there this summer, though. After the Hawks acquired his rights during the draft, Davidson and Richardson gave him a sales pitch — and a $4 million contract offer — he couldn’t refuse. He thinks he has a few years left in his tank.

‘‘You never want to hear, ‘We’re going to go in a different direction,’ ’’ Perry said. ‘‘I heard it in Anaheim when they bought me out. It’s something that fuels me.’’

He later added: ‘‘It’s probably a great compliment to have [that] you’re hated by the opposition, in opposing rinks, and you’re loved at home.’’

Hawks fans are well-acquainted with that aspect of Perry. Many still resent him because of his antics during the 2015 Western Conference Final, in particular. After years of boos every time he touched the puck inside the United Center, some awkward reconciliation might be necessary during the first few home games next season.

But Perry has grown accustomed to smoothing over relations with former enemies. He’ll have to do exactly that with new Hawks teammate Nick Foligno, for example, after fighting him during the 2021 playoffs. He’s optimistic he’ll win over Hawks fans, too.

‘‘Everywhere I’ve gone the last few years, it has been that way,’’ Perry said. ‘‘There have been some heated moments, myself against this team. But I’m happy to be on this side [and] excited to see where this season goes.’’


• Rookie goalie Drew Commesso, who will play for Rockford next season after three years at Boston University, has adopted Lightning star Andrei Vasilevskiy’s offseason training program to prepare for pro-level competition. The program emphasizes stretching, meditation and ‘‘power yoga.’’

• The Hawks brought in former defenseman Johnny Oduya to lead a breathing class for their prospects during development camp.

They also brought in LGBTQ-in-hockey advocate Brock McGillis to discuss with the prospects what ‘‘true acceptance means’’ and ‘‘how to develop safe spaces,’’ GM Kyle Davidson said.

Other development-camp activities included boxing lessons, an improv comedy class at Second City, a floor-hockey game with local students and a dinner at Gibson’s Steakhouse, which had Connor Bedard raving about Chicago’s ‘‘unreal’’ food scene.

• Bedard joked the week marked the longest stretch of his life in which he hasn’t been on an ice sheet. He said he’s looking forward to getting back to work the rest of this summer at home in Canada.

The Latest
Springsteen, McCartney and other famous fans talk up the musician and ‘Sopranos’ star in comprehensive documentary.
Ex-state Sen. Annazette Collins told the judge that she “let the voters down” and is “determined to never be in this situation again.”
En plena gira por Norteamérica con Caifanes, la banda mexicana celebra sus 35 años de carrera y el lanzamiento de “La Bas(e)” canción dedicada a los migrantes.
Los Bomberos de Chicago respondieron a una llamada de un incendio el miércoles en un taller de reparación de automóviles y baterías alrededor de las 6 p.m.
La ex alcaldesa Lori Lightfoot creó el Fondo Suplementario de Emergencia para Víctimas como proyecto piloto en cinco comunidades. Su sucesor, el alcalde Brandon Johnson, está utilizando fondos federales de estímulo para ampliar el programa a otros 10 vecindarios.