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.


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.


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.

  • I remember back when this happened and thinking the Perry deal was far superior than the Woywitka deal. Not that I could predict the future, but Perry seemed like a much better prospect at the time. Present context just makes it worse. I think it shows how bad Lowe truly was for this organization – and maybe still is.

    • O.C.

      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)

  • ubermiguel

    Definitely Lowe’s worst moment. But if he makes that deal does he make the Pronger deal in 2005? That’s the one that got us within one win of the promised land.

    • Let's Rebuild

      This is true. The “Shremp experience” taught us all to temper our expectations. Now whenever a player does anything, it is the greatest move we’ve ever seen. With Perry here we would get far too used to our players living up to or exceeding our expectations.

  • Bob Cobb

    I believe in the old philosophy “dont cry over spilt milk”, whats done is done, the whole Perry scenario is like wondering what Shane Doans career would have been like if the Oilers had drafted him and if the organization would have been better off. The future is the thing to focus on in Edmonton now and sorrounding the young stars with quality 3rd line guys like Ryan Jones. I don’t see Jones pulling a Glencross and asking for rediculous amounts of cash, I like Jones and it would be a mistake not to resign him. Also take Nugent-Hopkins, top line centres are harder to find and deal for than top paring defenceman, I think the Whitney trade is evidence of that.

  • Spydyr

    Could have, should have, would have. Hindsight is 20/20.
    Watching the Oil get schooled by a team that cared brings everyone back to earth.
    Hope Oklahoma makes the playoffs so half the big team gets a chance to play for something this year.
    The last few games has shown just how important size and desire are.Hope Tambo was evaluating….sigh

  • Bucknuck

    I suppose I wasn’t feeling bitter enough after listening to that entire game last night. I needed to think about the undone Perry deal as well.


    I am one of the Lowe apologists simply because I am so grateful for the thrill of 2006, but when I think of Mike Comrie, Ryan Smyth, and Curtis Glencross, I start thinking that perhaps it is time for new blood.

    I don’t think Tambellini has what it takes to make a winner, and Lowe traded Ryan Smyth away. Maybe both of those guys should just quietly “retire”.

    I dunno. I am feeling a little morose this morning.

  • 24% body fat

    but let back up a minute, would he be this good on the oilers. Perry is a great player and I would love to have him here. But having Getzlaf follow the same great development path as him sure had to help. One compliments the other and it took them to king status.

    How good would one Sedin be if the other wasn’t there to aid the other in development.

    But yes, what was Lowe thinking.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      I agree about the whole would Perry be that great here theory or would he even be here theory.

      As for Lowe doing that, was any fan really opposed to it? Comrie was public enemy #1 and I don’t remember fans saying that Lowe was an idiot for asking for that money at the time.