Tuesday, July 17, 2012

All systems go for Blues' Perron

Winger healthy, armed with new contract motivated after sudden playoff exit

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- David Perron was all smiles last week.

And why wouldn't he be?

Maybe some of those smiles have to do with being equipped with a brand spanking new $15.25 million contract, but for Perron, who has signed on for the next four seasons, being on the cusp of his first training camp in two years has a lot to do with his mindset.
(Getty Images)
David Perron (57) has a new contract and will enter training camp healthy.

Perron, along with Alex Pietrangelo, were in town with Blues draft picks and prospects getting a head start on conditioning programs -- supplied by strength and conditioning coach Nelson Ayotte -- to go along with what Perron's been doing on his own in his hometown of Sherbrooke, Quebec.

It was obviously a tumultuous year for Perron following the severe concussion stemming from a Nov. 4, 2010 hit by San Jose's Joe Thornton. Perron missed 13 months of action before finally resuming his career Dec. 3, 2011 against Chicago. He was obviously absent from last year's training camp, something that did not sit well with Perron, known to all as a rink rat.

It was obviously a setback after Perron came off a 20-goal, 47-point season in 2009-10.

But now that the concussion is out of the way and the contract has been taken care of ... "Now it's worrying about hockey and nothing else," said Perron, who is coming off a 21-goal, 42-point season in 57 games.

And the 24-year-old was more than happy to join some of the future Blues at the Ice Zone inside St. Louis Mills, training and working out with them.

"Seeing some of the prospects here, it's just exciting to see some of the guys," said Perron, who treated the group to lunch one afternoon. "Last year I wasn't able to do that. It's going to be a much different year for me."

Perron, who will make $3 million for the upcoming season, $3.5 million in 2013-14, $4.25 million in 2014-15 and $4.5 million in 2015-16 (a cap hit of $3.8125), will already be entering his sixth season in the NHL. And even at 24, he's glad to lend a helping hand and any advice the younger guys may be seeking. Just being involved in hockey year-round is something that was void in Perron's life.

"It's definitely nice to get drafted and everything, but for them, they've got to know there's a lot of work ahead for them to make it to the NHL roster," Perron said. "There's a lot of them that will play in the NHL and they've just got to be willing to put in the work and never give up.

"There's going to be some hurdles in the way. It's not going to be pretty all the time, but if you work hard, you're able to do it."

Just like Perron did coming back from his concussion when some days, it seemed like the symptoms would never go away. But he's in arguably the best shape he's been in after some hard and tough workouts thus far this summer in preparation for training camp in September.

"Probably not as I've ever felt," Perron said when asked if he's in the best shape of his career. "There's still a ways to go in the summer, but I feel a lot better than last year already. Two summers ago was my best summer of training ever. I came to camp and I felt like really really good. I'm going to look to train the same way this summer and get to that point. It's getting good, and I feel like I'm going to be there in September because right now I'm training hard and feeling really good."

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, who feels confident Perron's concussion issues are behind him, had no problem investing four years in Perron.

(Getty Images)
David Perron recently signed a four-year, $15.25 million contract. He will be
a mainstay in the Blues' lineup.
"I think both sides had to give a little bit, with our expectations on going three or four years and what the value was and his expectations on what his value was if he stayed healthy," Armstrong said. "I think there was a little risk on both sides. Ultimately what we did talk about .. our goal is for him to stay healthy and produce the way that we need him to produce to be a successful team and then he'll be able to get back to the contract table in relatively short order."

After a breakthrough regular season in which the Blues finished with 109 points but were humbled by the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference semifinals, Perron is just as motivated as his teammates to build on last season's success.

A lot of his motivation, by Perron's admission, also stems from a playoff season that was less than what Perron expected of himself. He finished with a goal and five points in nine games.

"As a team, we took a big step last year," said Perron, who has 74 points and 173 points in 292 career games. "It's definitely good to see, but at the same time, until we win the Cup, we have accomplished only so many little things. There's a lot more to go and I think we're all excited.

"We still remember that series against the LA Kings that we lost in four games. We're looking forward to next year and having a whole group healthy this time around to start the season, it's going to be exciting."

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