Two years after winning a Memorial Cup and world junior gold medal in the same season, former London Knight Corey Perry is on the verge of adding his name to the Stanley Cup.
Knights GM Mark Hunter thinks the Anaheim Ducks forward's wave of winning is just beginning.
"He's going to be a star in that league," Hunter said. "It's extremely difficult to win a Memorial Cup, a world junior gold and a Stanley Cup. Him and (teammate Ryan) Getzlaf, the next step, you'll see them playing for Team Canada at the Olympics and maybe the world championships. He'll have a chance to win it all."
There's only one NHLer who has won it all -- Perry's teammate Scott Niedermayer, who has the Stanley Cup, Memorial Cup, world junior, world championship and Olympic gold to his credit.
If the Ducks beat Ottawa in the series, Perry joins the veteran defenceman as the only Canadian players with the treble of Memorial Cup, world junior and Stanley Cup.
Niedermayer is celebrated as a winner in hockey. Perry is rapidly ascending to that championship status.
"It's not a fluke that the same guys who win when they're younger keep winning," Hunter said. "You can teach it and learn it as you go along but there are some players who know how to win at a young age and that knowledge stays with them."
Six years ago, Hunter saw something in the skinny 15-year-old from Peterborough that he didn't see in many of the other skaters he was scouting. Perry finished his junior career as the top point-getter in Knights history.
"I go back to the OHL Cup when he was in bantam and playing against a North York team that had Anthony Stewart and Brent Burns and about five or six quality players," Hunter said. "Peterborough didn't have as much talent but who won that game? Peterborough. And who was the best player on the ice? Corey Perry."
Since then, Perry has grown up, got bigger and improved his ability to stay on his skates around the crease. Now, the rest of Canada and the hockey-watching public are finding out what London has long known: he'll do anything necessary to win.
Ottawa head coach Bryan Murray, one of Knights boss Dale Hunter's mentors, called Perry a dirty player who head hunts every shift -- and that's from the guy who originally drafted him. The Ducks play with an edge that straddles the line of aggressiveness and suspendable, a style in which Perry thrives.
"Throughout my junior career, I was always one of the hated guys every rink I went to," Perry told the Ottawa Sun. "It's nothing I haven't heard before. It always gets me going when the crowd is getting on you."
Perry still tells the story he doesn't recall much of the Memorial Cup final win over Rimouski because he was socked in the face in the first period by an Oceanic tough guy. In an earlier playoff series, he fought Kitchener forward Mike Richards.
"He's always been a tough player and he's always on the puck," Hunter said. "Some guys, the puck follows them around and he's like that. You look at the chances he has had the last few games and he should've scored a bunch of times. He has skilled hands and a knack around the net. For us, he scored 28 goals in his first year and that's no small thing, especially when he wasn't getting a lot of quality power-play time."
His preparation quirks haven't changed from his London days and his ability to annoy and aggravate the opposition remain. In Ottawa, Senator Oleg Saprykin ended a warmup by firing a puck the length of the ice into the Anaheim net, then skated to the Ottawa goal and turned it around and put it up against the boards so Perry, the Ducks' last man out, couldn't retaliate.
Perry used to stickhandle on the ice before every London warmup and, on completion, shoot a puck at the far net, which drew the ire of the opposition. Word is getting around about his pre-game act.
There's also relief in Anaheim that three years ago, a trade that would have sent the then-Knight Perry to Edmonton for current Sen Mike Comrie broke down. Instead, the Oilers dealt Comrie to Philly and ended up with Jeff Woywitka and two draft picks, which turned into former Perry Knights-mates Rob Schremp and Danny Syvret.