HINDSIGHT: THE UNDONE COREY PERRY DEAL

Robin Brownlee
April 07 2011 10:05AM

Rising star Corey Perry is just now entering his prime years as an NHL player and he's already a legitimate Hart Trophy candidate as a member of the Anaheim Ducks. Perry could have been, and should have been, an Edmonton Oiler.

In fact, Perry was an Oiler on paper in December of 2003, dealt to Edmonton with a first-round draft pick by Anaheim GM Bryan Murray for Mike Comrie -- with the proviso by GM Kevin Lowe that Comrie and agent Ritch Winter work out a contract with Murray and that Lowe would have the opportunity to speak to Winter and Comrie before signing off.

After Winter and Murray came to terms on a two-year contract at $1.65 million a season, Lowe picked up the phone and informed Winter there was a condition to completing the trade -- that Comrie make a payment of $2.5 million to the Oilers to "top up" the transaction.

The deal came undone, Perry stayed in Anaheim and later in December Lowe dealt Comrie to the Philadelphia Flyers for Jeff Woywitka and draft picks that turned into Rob Schremp and Danny Syvret.

If Lowe only knew then what we all know now.

LOOKING BACK

Fans will never forget the first three months of the 2003-04 season and the bitter split between Comrie and the Oilers. I won't because I was the beat man at The Sun in those days and it was my job to be all over the story as it developed.

I remember the frustration in Murray's voice when I spoke to him on the phone after breaking the news about Lowe's request for that $2.5-million rebate to complete the trade. It's probably the best deal Murray never made. Quite the opposite, it turns out, for Lowe and the Oilers.

I guess it's Perry's hat-trick for the Ducks in a 6-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday that's prompted me to pick at that old scab today rather than keep kicking away at the dead horse that is Edmonton's fifth straight season out of the playoffs.

Perry, 25, has 50 goals and 97 points and is a lock to be one of the top three vote-getters for the Hart Trophy this season. Nothing Lowe got from Philadelphia, or in any subsequent trades with the assets culled from it, even comes close.

BLACK MARK

When critics of Lowe, now insulated in the position of president of hockey operations while Steve Tambellini takes the heat, talk about the worst moves he made during his tenure as GM, they often cite the return he got in the Chris Pronger trade.

I always think back to the undone Perry deal, and what Lowe's demand for that $2.5 million has ultimately cost this franchise. I'm not sure what the answer is exactly because it's impossible to know how things would have played out, but, at best, it was not Lowe's finest hour. I think it was his worst.

While it's fine and good Lowe and Comrie patched things up on a personal level to the point where Mike came back for an underwhelming encore tour of duty with the Oilers, that's cold consolation for long-suffering fans here and now.

But I digress. Let's get back to debating how much the Oilers should offer Ryan Jones in a new contract, or whether they should draft Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Adam Larsson or . . .

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

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A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#101 Biowolf
April 07 2011, 09:41PM
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Great post , Robin. Didn´t know you can throw a punch like that.

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#102 Mitch
April 07 2011, 09:54PM
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@Brownlee

Robin would the 2.5m be a stipulation from the owners at the time? If this was Lowes stipulation WOW! Kevin had a great run in 06, wheeling and dealing. The Pronger trade and many other signings, mostly just the timing of how everything had and continues to fall in place for Klowe, is just a clear sign that he must walk away from this franchise if they want to take the proper steps forward. Kevin is still in COMPLETE controll of what happens with this team, just watch "oil change". We have been spining are wheels here since 1992, or maybe I'm just crazy.

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#103 JohnQPublic
April 07 2011, 09:58PM
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I don't agree. Perry would have been amazing in Edmonton, but given the state of the EIG and the market at the time I thought Comrie got what was coming to him. The same with Smyth. You want to be a mercenary, you're treated like one.

Murray definitely got screwed, but he made up for that after leaking the name of the players in the Heatley deal. Tit for tat, now we're even.

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#104 Team Hall
April 07 2011, 10:14PM
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@ Ovenchicken.

Agree with your plan. I think if we dont draft Couturier Brownlee will have to write another one of these articles bemoaning the one that got away. Oh, his footspeed isnt great. Does anyone ask about Perry's footspeed? That's what I thought. Couturier has the most pedigree in this draft. He was ranked #1 earlier this year. He put up 96 pts 2 years in a row. And he is huge.

Nice article Brownlee, I love the sentimental stuff. Keep it coming. I think that may be the worst trade we never made. I am also ticked that we let Roman "The Hammer" Hamrlik get away too.

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#105 stevezie
April 08 2011, 12:08AM
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Funny you should mention it; I think the Hamrlik trade is one of the ones Lowe puts at the top of his resume.
Shame to trade a guy who really liked the team and the city though. Rare to see an oiler pissed to be traded.

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#106 Archaeologuy
April 08 2011, 07:37AM
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Cool Beans wrote:

You're telling me you saw Visnovski was going to lead the league in Dman points? I don't recall too muck negativity towards that trade when it happened. I will still make that trade again.

I implore you to muck through the records of OilersNation. You will find that I was firmly against trading Lubo for multiple reasons from the get-go.

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#107 Oilcruzer
April 08 2011, 07:42AM
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friday the FISTteenth wrote:

I could be wrong, but wouldn't 2.5 million in cash be something the ownership was asking for, rather than Lowe?

There is the answer. The directive for approval on deals came from above (before Katz purchase)

Corey Perry would have fit in nicely, but was there a need At That Time to develop a star, waiting til now for him to be successful at this point?

I say no. The Oil woulda been mediocre. It needed to be rebuilt and you don't half blow something up. Suck now to be great later is better than the last 20 years.

(2006 excepted, and even that season was average, just a great finish)

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#108 snoopy
April 08 2011, 10:15AM
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Great read Robin. Just another example of the great job Klowe has done making this team the joke it is today. The only thing i can add is that had Perry come here he could have played with the number one center good ole Horcoff and been shipped out of town 2 years later when the Oil figured it was Perry not putting up the points not the fact that he was playing with a fourth line center.

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#109 Team Couturier
April 08 2011, 01:01PM
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If I recall, wasnt K Lowe initially asking for Joffrey Lupul, didnt want Perry, but Anaheim would not give up Lupul for anything. So we "settled" for Perry, but then this thing went 2.5M sideways because of cheap owners. I wonder if, had Lupul stayed put in Anaheim all this time, if he would have developed into more of a star and less of a Patrick O'Sullivan? Anyways, that K Lowe sure knows how to judge young talent. Please keep him away from the draft Robin. BTW, Robin, this Bobby Ryan is suspect as a prospect, don't you agree with K Lowe on that one too?

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#110 Archaeologuy
April 08 2011, 01:36PM
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@Team Couturier

Lupul's career has been hurt by Injury more than any other factor. His lone season here (where he was moved prematurely) is a blip in the radar. His production per game played is significantly better everywhere he's played since, but his body is breaking down on him. Patrick O'Sullivan is barely an NHL player when he's healthy these days.

I think it's an unfair comparison.

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