Ducks' Perry, Getzlaf return with futures in doubt
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)
Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf have played together for nearly every game of their careers with the Anaheim Ducks, usually on the same line. Perry won an NHL MVP award, Getzlaf became the Ducks' captain, and they raised the Stanley Cup together.
With unrestricted free agency looming for both forwards this summer, they don't know whether they're heading into their final few months together.
No matter what happens, they've both got ample motivation to do something remarkable in the Ducks' shortened season.
Yet Perry and Getzlaf expressed no concern about their contract status when the Ducks opened training camp Sunday. They're determined to stay focused on fixing the Ducks, who missed the postseason for the second time in three years last spring.
''Obviously, I don't have a time frame on it, but we'd like to get something done if we can,'' Getzlaf said. ''If both parties are wanting to do that, then it'll get done.''
Anaheim general manager Bob Murray opened camp by affirming his strong desire to re-sign Perry, the goal-scoring member of the tandem, and Getzlaf, the Ducks' top playmaker. Anaheim drafted the forwards together in the first round in 2003 and nurtured their emergence as international stars, with both winning gold medals for Canada at the Vancouver Olympics.
''It's my top priority,'' Murray said. ''They've been Anaheim Ducks from the start. I love those guys. They're winners, and I'm going to do everything in my power to sign them.''
But Murray realizes both sides must make tough decisions before a deal is done. While Getzlaf and Perry decide whether they're willing to risk personal upheaval by waiting for unrestricted free agency, the Ducks must figure out how much they're willing to spend on two 27-year-old forwards with top-level talent and disappointing recent results.
Perry won the MVP award in 2011 with 98 points and a league-best 50 goals, but his production slumped to 37 goals and 60 points last season. Getzlaf struggled with injuries during part of Perry's MVP campaign, and he returned last season with 57 points and a career-low 11 goals in the worst full season of his NHL career.
Yet even those declining numbers probably wouldn't stop somebody from signing both players to huge contracts. The Ducks aren't eager to risk losing two of their most valuable properties: Both forwards' representatives are scheduled to visit Murray in Anaheim in the near future for contract talks.
''There's no time frame,'' Perry said. ''Whatever happens, happens. I'm not going to be thinking about it. It's not going to be in the front of my mind. I have a job here to do first, and that's to go out and play hockey and help this team win.''
Perry and Getzlaf progressed through the Ducks' system together and joined the big-league club during the 2005-06 system, winning a Stanley Cup in 2007 while skating with Dustin Penner on the Ducks' ''Kid Line.'' Getzlaf and Perry have since become the faces of the franchise along with Teemu Selanne, but the Ducks have won just one playoff round in five seasons since their Stanley Cup triumph, upsetting top-seeded San Jose in 2009.
Although Getzlaf and Perry are inextricably linked, they don't do everything together. They don't share an agent, yet the forwards got nearly identical five-year contracts five seasons ago, with Getzlaf agreeing to his $26.6 million deal a few months before Perry.
Getzlaf appears to be just as eager as Murray to make a deal. The center lives in Orange County year-round, and his wife recently gave birth to their second child.
''I like the direction of the team,'' Getzlaf said. ''I've had several meetings with Bob, and he's made me aware of his plans, and the way things are supposed to go down. There's going to be minor adjustments to all of it, but I'd like to be a big part of it.''
Bobby Ryan also appears to be comfortable back with the Ducks after his name surfaced in innumerable trade rumors last season, culminating in Ryan's request to be dealt shortly before last summer's draft.
And with promising youngsters Kyle Palmieri, Nick Bonino, Devante Smith-Pelly and Emerson Etem angling for playing time this winter, the franchise could see a future beyond the veterans who grew up with the Ducks - but only if Getzlaf and Perry prove tough to re-sign.
''I've been through it once already with the contract stuff during the season, and I let my agent and Bob take care of most of that,'' Getzlaf said. ''I'm not really involved for the most part. I've had a few meetings with Bob already before this thing gets going, just knowing the direction of the team and everything he wants to do. The rest of it will take care of itself. I've just got to go out and play my game.''