ST. LOUIS — Scott Perunovich has never had a regular week-to-week paycheck, but that’s about to change.
Perunovich, who left the University of Minnesota-Duluth after his junior season, will be competing for a spot on the St. Louis Blues when National Hockey League training camps open on Wednesday, Jan. 3.
Whether that’s with the professional club or with their minor-league team will remain to be seen, but Perunovich has done everything he’s needed to do to start camp in 2021.
After Scott Perunovich Day in August, the former Hibbing High School graduate moved down to the Twin Cities, and started working out at TCO in Eagan, which is the Minnesota Vikings practice facility. He was also skating at MAP at the University of St. Thomas.
Of course, nothing was written in stone because of COVID-19.
‘Everything was in the dark, but I was skating with a good group of guys,” Perunovch said. “I was working out with a private trainer, so I would be prepared when everything started.”
On Monday and Wednesday, Perunovich did his heavy weightlifting. On Tuesday and Thursday, he did more running and stops and starts.
“Building strength was the big one,” Perunovich said. “That’s something I focused one, especially this offseason. I was making sure I got stronger every day, knowing I was taking the biggest leap of my life.
“I didn’t want to be that small anymore. I tried to gain weight and be a lot healthier as to what I was putting into my body.”
As of today, Perunovich has put on about seven pounds of muscle, and he’s weighing in at 175 pounds.
“I’ve been talking to them, and I’m most comfortable playing at 175 or 180 max,” Perunovich said. “I don’t want to get too heavy. I’m putting on weight the right way, so I should be able to keep my speed up.”
Perunovich moved to St. Louis on Dec. 3, and he is living with teammate Justin Falk and his wife, Chloe.
“They were nice enough to take me into their home to make sure I had a good home away from home,” Perunovich said. “With everything being shutdown, there’s not much going on, so I’ll I’m doing is going to the rink, coming home, or I’m going to golf course as much as I can.”
Falk played his freshman season (2011) for the Bulldogs when they won the National Championship. He signed with Carolina, then joined the Blues organization last season.
Falk has made Perunovich’s transition into his new life a lot easier to take.
“He transitioned into the big-brother role, taking care of me, and if I have any questions, he’s the first person I ask,” Perunovich said. “He was reaching out to me.”
As far as transitioning into the NHL, Perunovich had a taste of that last July. That’s when he found out he had a lot of work to do.
“It was seeing their work ethic every-single day, what they do before practice, how they take care of themselves,” Perunovich said. “It was unbelievable to see the amount of skill these guys have. I hadn’t seen anything like it.
“It was a reality check. I had to get a lot better. There’s still room for improvement.”
Since he’s moved to St. Louis, Perunovich, he’s skating every day, and more importantly, he’s taking care of his body.
“I’m doing the extra stuff away from the rink,” Perunovich said. “I’m enjoying my time with Justin and Chloe. I’m giving myself the best chance when the time comes.”
That time is just over three weeks away when camp starts. Perunovich is on a rookie contract, which are all two-way deals.
“I’ll be having my first actual income,” Perunovich said. “I’ve never had a paycheck week-to-week. It’s a new chapter in my life. I’m realizing I’m not in college anymore. I’m growing up fast.”
Perunovich knows he’ll have his work cut out for him once camp starts, but he’d sure like to be the second player from Hibbing to play in the NHL. Adam Johnson was the first since Pat Micheletti and Scott Sandelin played in the late 1980’s.
“Watching the guys here, so far, I’m definitely going to have to give it 110-percent,” Perunovich said. “I’ll do my best and hope for the best and whatever happens, happens and go from there.
“The coaches and management will decide where I go. I’ll work hard, take what they give me and go from there. To be that next player from Hibbing in the NHL, that would be special, for sure.”