'A gut feeling' told Hunters to select Perry

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

London Knights general manager Mark Hunter calls it "a gut feeling."

There was no question Corey Perry was going to be their first-round draft pick four years ago when Hunter and his brother Dale first saw the 15-year-old playing with the Peterborough bantams.

"That gut feeling is when you don't have to see him again," Mark Hunter said yesterday.

"You see a guy like that, you don't watch him anymore. You stamp him. The last one we'd had like that was Rick Nash (drafted in 2000).

"As soon as we saw him, we knew we didn't have to watch him anymore. You say, 'He's good. Let's go find some other ones.' "

Coach Dale Hunter put it in a different perspective: "It's like ice cream. Some like vanilla, some like chocolate, some like strawberry. We knew what we liked."

The Knights sure have liked what they've seen from Perry in his four years here.

"He's still a kid and he's still got to get stronger" to play in the NHL. "But he's just got such a competitive edge," Mark Hunter said.

"He just wants to win. And this game is about winning and people want to be around winners. And he is a winner, and he's shown it every night here for four years."

Hunter said Perry "plays every night. Some star players don't play every night. But he wants to be the guy. He wants to be the first star. That's a great attribute because he wants that every time he steps on the ice and some star players don't have that drive.

"That's how you win the Red Tilson," Hunter said of today's expected announcement that Perry is the OHL's most outstanding player for 2004-05.

Dale Hunter said he sees so much of Nash, now with the Columbus Blue Jackets, in Perry. "Corey just needs to get stronger like Rick did," Dale Hunter said.

"When Rick left (for the NHL at age 18), he was still a kid. Now he comes back and shakes your hand and ouch."

The coach said the student has learned his lessons well.

"It's one thing to play on the one side, but Corey goes in all areas.

"He goes in the danger areas (the front of the net where you take a beating) and he has the makeup to do it. You can't be afraid. He's fearless. He could stick on the outside and get the points -- but not enough to win the scoring race."

Dale Hunter said the organization can take pride in what Perry has become.

"He's one of the kids that's been a joy to watch and develop, and he deserves that because he's worked hard. It will be fun to watch when he plays in the National Hockey League."

But for as much as the organization deserves credit, "the kids are the ones that go get the bumps and bruises," Dale Hunter said.

"We direct them, we get them going in the right way. But he went out and did it and proved himself and congratulations to him."

CHL SCORING LEADERS

Regular season

Player, Team GP G A Pts

Sidney Crosby, Rimouski 62 66 102 168

Corey Perry, London 60 47 83 130

Dany Roussin, Rimouski 69 54 62 116

Eric Fehr, Brandon 71 59 52 111

Marc-Antoine Pouliot, Rimouski 70 45 69 114

Maxime Boisclair, Chicoutimi 70 51 57 108

Dylan Hunter, London 67 31 73 104

Ryan Stone, Brandon 70 33 66 99

Brad Richardson, Owen Sound 68 41 56 97

David Desharnais, Chicoutimi 68 32 65 97

Playoffs

(Not including last night's WHL game)

Player, Team GP G A Pts

Corey Perry, London 13 9 20 29

Eric Fehr, Brandon 18 14 14 28

Michael Richards, Kitchener 15 11 17 28

Ryan Stone, Brandon 18 4 22 26

Lance Monych, Brandon 18 15 7 22

Sidney Crosby, Rimouski 9 9 13 22

Martin Sagat, Kootenay 16 8 14 22

Stanislav Lascek, Chicoutimi 17 4 18 22

Rob Schremp, London 13 9 12 21

Chris Hulit, Ottawa 16 10 10 20


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