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Oilers veteran Perry brushes off idea of retirement ahead of Game 7: 'I've got more in me'


Corey Perry isn't going anywhere.

The Edmonton Oilers forward was drafted by Anaheim in 2003, made his NHL debut in 2005, and won his only Stanley Cup in 2007.

At 39 years old, and on the eve of Game 7 of this season's final against the Florida Panthers, he was asked if Monday night could potentially be his swansong.

"Uh, no," Perry replied after the last practice of the 2023-24 season Sunday. "I've got more in me. I've got lots more in me — five more years.

"What's so funny? I feel like I'm 25."

No longer the dominate player of his prime, the winger still provides value on and off the ice. He scored the winner in Game 5 as part of the Oilers' pushback in the title series that has seen them dig out of a 3-0 hole to force the winner-take-all finale.

The Hart Trophy winner as NHL MVP in 2011, Perry has put up 429 goals, 476 assists and 905 points in 1,311 games over 19 seasons. He's added 127 points (54 goals, 73 assists) in 213 playoff appearances.

The Peterborough, Ont., product waited a long time to get back here. He then lost in the Cup final with Dallas in 2020, with Montreal in 2021, and with Tampa Bay in 2022.

The passion for the game remained. Perry's future was, however, up in the air back in the fall.

Signed to be a mentor with the up-and-coming Chicago Blackhawks, the team cut ties in late November, saying he violated his standard player contract and team policies "intended to promote professional and safe work environments." Neither Perry nor general manager Kyle Davidson was willing to provide any details about what led to the termination.

Perry apologized for his actions and said he'd begun seeking help for alcohol abuse. He asked for a meeting with Gary Bettman and spoke with the commissioner in January, then returned to the NHL less than two weeks later, signing with the Oilers for the rest of this season.

He hasn't looked back.

"I'm going to keep playing until they cut my skates off," Perry said in the visitors locker room at Amerant Bank Arena. "I want to continue to play. I love the game, I love being around the room.

"It's just the camaraderie that you have and that bond you have with guys in this sport."

RNH a go

Oilers centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins missed practice Sunday, but head coach Kris Knoblauch said the longest-serving Edmonton player will suit up for Game 7.

"Won't be an issue," Knoblauch said. "It would take a lot to take Ryan out of the lineup tomorrow.

Monday will mark 13 years since the Oilers selected Nugent-Hopkins first overall at the 2011 draft.

"A lot of players have a lot of respect for him," Knoblauch said. "He's seen it all, seen a lot of down years. Not making the playoffs, playoff disappointments. Now to have the opportunity to win that last game of the season, I think everyone's very happy for him."

What about Bob?

Florida goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky didn't practise Sunday and wasn't made available to reporters, but Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said he will be good to go for Game 7.

The 35-year-old netminder stopped 82 of the first 86 shots he faced in the final — including a shutout in the opener — before getting shelled for five goals on 16 attempts in Game 4 as the Oilers started their climb.

Bobrovsky then allowed four goals on 23 shots in Game 5, including a sharp-angle effort from Connor McDavid, and three goals on 19 Edmonton efforts Friday.

"I liked his last game," Maurice said. "Thought he was strong and solid."

3-0 history

Oilers centre Adam Henrique has experience digging out of a deep playoff hole.

Trailing 3-0 in the Ontario Hockey League's Western Conference final in 2010, his Windsor Spitfires won four straight over the Kitchener Rangers before eventually claiming their second straight Memorial Cup.

"It's never fun being down," Henrique said. "When you're down three, your back's against the wall. Everybody counts you out. But the belief within the group feels similar to what I've been through before. We're unwavered.

"We just keep pushing, keep playing hockey. And I think most of all, everybody's just having a lot of fun."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 23, 2024. Top Stories

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