In the NHL, the end of November turned out to be extremely eventful. Nikita Kucherov scored six points in one game to take the lead in the scoring race, Connor McDavid went into his usual pace and burst into four goals and 11 assists in the last five games, and two-time Stanley Cup winner Patrick Kane with Chicago signed a one-year contract with Detroit. However, in recent days, the most discussed has not been the new, but the former club of the American. After all, another famous veteran, Corey Perry, who moved to Illinois from Florida only in the summer, may soon leave it.
Of course, over the past few years, the Canadian has only remotely resembled his Anaheim self. In Tampa Bay, he earned a million dollars a year, played mostly on the fourth line, and did not shine. In the season before last, he "scored" only 40 (19 + 21) points in the regular season, and last year he stopped at 25 (12 + 13). Although in the playoffs he looked pretty good and chalked up two goals and three assists in six meetings.
All the more surprising was what happened next. Two days before his contract expired, Tampa gave Perry to Chicago in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick, and the Blackhawks subsequently offered him a one-year deal for $4 million a year, a hefty sum considering his age and stats. But the club had no doubts about the veteran. According to general manager Kyle Davidson, he was seen not only as a professional who "knows how to win", but also as a mentor for young people. For example, for Connor Bedard, one of the most talented hockey players of our time.
And if Perry is to be believed, he was more than satisfied with such functions. He himself admitted that he could no longer demonstrate high results on the ice, but he was ready to pass on his invaluable experience to the younger generation. Corey was especially excited about the opportunity to play alongside Bedard and expressed his willingness to help him take his first steps in the NHL.
"I'm very excited to be able to play for the team, especially with the arrival and development of a player like Connor. I've seen a lot of games with him, especially at the World Junior Championship. It's an exciting moment for the Blackhawks... For me, it's not about what's going to happen on the ice, it's more about what happens off the ice, in the locker room. It's important to be a good companion, to help [Bedard] with day-to-day activities. So that he knows exactly how and where to act, has time on time – that kind of thing. Then, as the season progresses, everything will be as it should be... The NHL is not an easy league, especially if you start at the age of 18 or 20. You have to learn something, try to find yourself. I'm just going to try to help the young guys," the Canadian told the league's press service.
And at first, everything was going well. Even though Perry practically did not go on the ice with Bedard, he looked decent himself. In 16 games, he scored nine (4 + 5) points and by the end of the second decade of November he was tied for third place in the list of Chicago's scorers, behind only Philip Kurashev and Connor. But all of a sudden, he stopped getting into the application. At first, he did not play against Columbus, and then against Toronto, after which his fate began to be closely watched by the media.
At the same time, the club was extremely reluctant to share the details of the situation around Perry. Before the game against Toronto, Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson dryly confirmed his absence from the lineup and declined to provide further information on the topic. However, Davidson later announced the suspension of the forward for an indefinite period. A little light was also shed by the hockey player's agent Pat Morris. As he stated, his client was forced to leave the club's location "for personal reasons."
At that point, some still hoped for Perry's imminent return to Chicago, but with each passing day, the chances of that happening were getting smaller. Rumors began to appear in the press about the Blackhawks' intention to terminate the contract with the striker, and a couple of days later he was placed in the waiver draft. And as explained in the club, the reason was more than serious.
"Following an internal investigation, Chicago determined that Corey Perry behaved in an unacceptable manner and violated both the terms of the player's standard contract and internal rules aimed at ensuring a professional and safe working environment <... > In this regard, Corey Perry has been sent to the unconditional waiver draft <... >After Mr. Perry passes the waiver draft, his contract will be terminated immediately," the press service of the six-time Stanley Cup winners said.
By the time it was decided to part ways with Perry, rumors had been circulating in the press for a couple of days about a possible reason for his excommunication from the team. According to Canucks Daily, it could allegedly be an intimate relationship between the athlete and Bedard's mother, Melanie. In early November, Chicago held a Mom's Trip campaign, in which the parents of the players traveled with them to the team's meetings. And according to the publication, it was then that the romance could begin.
All of this is reminiscent of a story that happened in the NBA more than a decade ago. So, in May 2010, there were rumors about a love affair between LeBron James' mother and his Cleveland teammate Delonte West. It was rumored that this was the reason why the leader of the Cavaliers blurred the end of the Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Celtics. And although the information was not later confirmed, the athletes did not play for the same team anymore. The king went to Miami in the summer, and his former partner went to Boston.
In the case of Bedard and Perry's mother, nothing is known for certain. Moreover, several sources have already rushed to refute the information. For example, NBC Sports Chicago insider Charlie Roumeliotis called the information about Corey false, and Davidson spoke out in a harsh way about it.
"This doesn't apply to any of the hockey players or their families, and anyone who claims otherwise is completely wrong and, frankly, disgusting," general manager Frank Seravalli said.
Davidson's words were partially confirmed by ESPN journalist Emily Kaplan. According to her data, the incident that provoked Perry's suspension occurred on the eve of the meeting with Columbus, and in addition to the hockey player, one of the club's employees was involved in it. At the same time, the details are not specified.
Either way, the phase of Perry's career with the Blackhawks was cut short before it even began. But that's half the trouble. The main thing is the uncertain future of the famous athlete, who will now find it extremely difficult to find a new team. After all, hardly anyone would agree to pay a 38-year-old veteran $4 million.