If you sent David Perron a message in the past 48 hours welcoming him back to Las Vegas, rest assure he’s seen it. His Instagram and Twitter have been blowing up with messages and well-wishes. He’s still working on responding to them.
The former Vegas Golden Knights forward made his return to Las Vegas for the first time Friday since signing a four-year contract with the St. Louis Blues on July 1. St. Louis won 4-1 and Vegas dropped to 8-11-1 to conclude the ‘Suspended Nate Schmidt’ era.
But while the Golden Knights were answering questions on trying to figure out what type of team they are, Perron was all smiles in the visitor’s locker room. Not because he may have gotten revenge, but he was genuinely happy to be back in the arena where he helped create history last season.
“You could feel the love from this city, for sure,” Perron said. “It’s one of those that it’s unfortunate that it didn’t work out. I still kind of wish that it would’ve been different, but I like the way we played and that’s what matters right now.”
Perron expressed his desire to stay with the Golden Knights days after they lost in the Stanley Cup Final to the Washington Capitals. He said there were talks during the season about getting a new deal done, but nothing materialized. Perron signed with St. Louis, the team that drafted him and where he spent his first seven years of his NHL career with.
The 30-year-old Perron scored a career-high 66 points with Vegas last season, and it’s evident he still has close friends on the team, such as Jonathan Marchessault, Marc-Andre Fleury and Cody Eakin. After Marchessault scored a game-winning overtime penalty shot goal on Oct. 28 against the Ottawa Senators, Perron literally Facetimed Marchessault from Vladimir Tarasenko’s hot tub to roast/congratulate him.
That translated to tonight in his first game at T-Mobile Arena. At one point, Perron had a rebound opportunity in front of Fleury with a Grade-A chance to score on the 10th winningest goaltender of all-time, but the puck froze. The two had a nice conversation about it.
“I’ve never scored on him and he’s like, ‘Oh, that was close. Almost, almost,’ like he was joking with me, and I wanted to break my stick on him,” Perron said. “I’ve got so much respect for him.”
Perron and Eakin used to play cards together on road trips. There was a moment where Eakin hit Perron, and 57 was shocked to find it was 21 who got him along the boards. The two shared a laugh and carried on.
“I had so much fun with the guys, and that’s what I take from here,” Perron said. “I wish it’s always longer when we had the experience we had last year, but it is what it is.”
Perron got the start Friday. After his first shift, the Golden Knights honored him with a ‘welcome back’ graphic. Perron said he was catching his breath and barely acknowledged it toward the end.
The numbers Perron accumulated last season no longer matter. What’s important is the ‘two’ in the 2-0 record his Blues have on the Golden Knights this season, and the 7-7-3 record his St. Louis team has amassed through 17 games.
Asked if he notices anything different in Vegas’ play without him in the lineup, Perron didn’t dare touch that one with a 39-and-a-half-foot pole.
“I’m not going to go there,” he said.
But he did have some thoughts on his former team’s struggles.
“A lot of these guys over there, they’re playing good hockey. It’s unfortunate some of the results they’ve had,” Perron said, “but they’re getting some guys back and [defenseman] Nate’s [Schmidt] coming back soon, so good on them and I hope they have some success from here.”
Perron will always have love for Las Vegas. His thoughts were genuine throughout last season, and they are now. There’s probably a part of him that wishes he was back in Las Vegas. For now, he’s on an injury-plagued team himself that’s hoping to turn the corner soon.
But much like anyone else who played in Vegas last season, there’s that part of not letting go of what happened.
“To kind of finish a chapter of my experience here, how much people got into hockey quickly, walking around a bit last night, a couple of Golden Knights fans recognized me. That’s always fun,” Perron said. “You know you did something good for the community and that’s what you try to do.
“[Last year] was unreal. It’s my favorite place to play in the league.”