Corey Perry won't be back in Montreal next year, signs two-year contract with Tampa Bay

He came, he annoyed, he conquered (fans' hearts), but now Corey Perry's time as a Montreal Canadien is done.

The winger, who had become a fan favourite during his sole season in bleu-blanc-rouge, signed a two-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. The Lightning defeated the Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Finals to repeat as NHL champions.

Perry had just come off a renaissance of a season with the Habs, where he scored nine goals and 12 assists in 49 games and added four goals and six assists during the playoffs. While it was a far cry statistically from Perry's prime with the Anaheim Ducks, where he had surpassed 30 goals in a season six times and once scored 50, he was lauded for his in-your-face style and habit of annoying opposing defences and goalies as well as his leadership during the Canadiens' unlikely playoff run.

While general manager Marc Bergevin had expressed a desire to bring the pesky forward back, it was not to be.  

Perry's departure isn't the only notable absence that will be felt in the Habs' lineup next season. A day earlier, as the NHL's free agency period began, centre Philip Danault signed a deal with the Los Angeles Kings. Last week, Bergevin confirmed rumours that captain Shea Weber was unlikely to play next season due to injuries and his career could be over. 

The Canadiens haven't been inactive during free agency, bringing in former Lightning defenceman David Savard, sniper Mike Hoffman, forward Cedric Paquette and defenceman Chris Wideman

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