Oilers’ Perlini can provide leadership that team lacks

It had been nearly 40 hours since the Edmonton Oilers took a two goal, third-period advantage over the Ottawa Senators and lost for the 12Thfourteen games. Oil Country was in full-blown chaos on Monday, Jan. 17, with no sign of the panic subsiding.

Brendan Perlini then took his place at the table to give Edmonton a brief media access.

Perlini didn’t just say what everyone needed to hear; he said what everyone needed to hear in the way it needed to be said. The 25-year-old forward provided refreshing introspection and perspective with a candour and demeanour that has been missing from the Oilers’ leadership core.

“At the end of the day, it’s hockey,” Perlini said. “Go out there and play. Play like you’re on the pond when you’re a kid and have fun, be positive and good things will happen… I’m a big believer in the law of attraction; whatever you think about, you bring about.”

This was almost like a therapy session for fans who finally saw the man behind the helmet. And the Oilers’ faithful lit up social media and talk radio expressing how much better they felt after just a few minutes of listening to the affable Perlini. If his infectious attitude starts likewise resonating throughout Edmonton’s dressing room, the Oilers shouldn’t find themselves in freefalls like their current 2-10-2 stretch.

Related: Oilers: 4 Things You Didn’t Know About Brendan Perlini

During Monday’s availability, Perlini shared thoughts more profound and genuine than the usual expressionless cliché answers from Connor McDavid and Co. Perlini, the Oilers captain, despite his extraordinary on-ice skills and unwavering dedication to the franchise has never been accused or seen saying anything that might spark a spark.

Perlini’s philosophy is rooted in the ups and downs that have led him to what could almost be described as a place of Zen. Perlini’s left wing was a lottery pick, selected 12th in 2014 by Arizona Coyotes. He played 239 games with the Coyotes and Detroit Red Wings over four seasons and was out of the NHL at age 24.

Brendan Perlini Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images).

Perlini won pro hockey in Switzerland after last season. Signed a two-way, one-year contract with the Oilers that provided an opportunity to prove himself and get back into the NHL. He led the Oilers with six goals and a plus-6 rating in the preseason but went without a point while appearing in just 13 of Edmonton’s first 24 regular-season games and was sent down to the Bakersfield Condors in the American Hockey League. He has now been recalled by the Oilers on Dec. 14 and has scored three goals, assisted one, taken 14 shots, and earned a plus-2 rating in five games.

Perlini: How his Attitude developed

“It hasn’t been something that’s come really easy for me. It’s something over the whole COVID period, if not before. Detroit was really tough for me. The team was in a rut. Myself, personally, didn’t have a great year there, so when you hit those low of lows, the only way to go is to go up, and I really did a lot of soul-searching about myself to see who I was, why I enjoyed playing the game, where I want to go in the game and things like that.”

“I met and trained with a lot of people over the last couple years, Navy Seals being one, and my one buddy, Tommy, he was a Navy Seal for 15 years. A usual term is four years and he spent 15, and that’s the elite of the elite where their consequence is death. So, right off the hop, I’m like, ‘ok, if I miss a pass, if I miss a shot, if we lose the game, my consequence is not death. I still get to wake up and go to the rink the next day, or go work out, or do what I want to do, so that relieves a little bit of mental ease, right there.”

“Like I said, law of attraction for me is so big, and (I’m) really just staying positive through everything, really trying to enjoy everything. Sometimes things can get out of control. I try to keep my fingers on the pulse and live in the moment. It’s very tough, because you’re always thinking about what’s going to happen next, or this or that, so for me it’s a mindset of trying to stay present, stay happy and go out and enjoy everything.”

Perlini on Where Oilers Go From Here

“I think it can only go up. I’ve been on teams where it’s lose six, seven eight in a row and you can win six, seven, eight in a row, just like that. I’m obviously an optimistic guy, a glass half full guy, but we’ve got some of the best players in the world – the best player in the world – in there, so at any given moment good things can happen and you just got to keep going. That’s life.

“Things are never going to be that you’re going to win every single game, and your life is going to be rainbows and clouds. Life is ups and downs, ebbs and flows, so it’s really almost grateful for our group to go through periods like this, because then when we’ll get back to winning, it’s like, ‘Ah, I like that feeling, I want to keep winning.’

“Maybe before we weren’t grateful enough for winning games and we have to go through something like this to learn and become better.”

McDavid and Perlini get shot together

Perlini appears to be poised for a shot at the top-six. Perlini skates in practice on McDavid’s lineKailer Yamamoto (right wing). And if that trio remains intact for Edmonton’s next game, Thursday (Jan. 20) against the Florida Panthers at Rogers Place, Perlini might help reignite McDavid, who last recorded a point on New Year’s Day and hasn’t scored a goal since New Year’s Eve.

Perlini could also continue to play a prominent role in the dressing room and inspire a culture change and evolution in leadership that will propel the Oilers to the next level.