Corey Perry is what hockey commentators call abrasive, an agitator. Opponents use words that can't be shared in polite company, yet they always welcome his fierceness when they're united by national or All-Star colors.

But hockey is not a polite game and the Ducks' right wing played it this season with a new edge and excellence.

Perry, 26, led the NHL with 50 goals and collected a career-best 98 points while lifting the Ducks to fourth place in the West. Center Ryan Getzlaf struggled with injuries and others stumbled but Perry consistently gave more than anyone knew he had.

Still, his surprise was genuine Wednesday when he won the Hart trophy as the NHL's most valuable player, beating out NHL scoring champion Daniel Sedin of Vancouver and Tampa Bay veteran Martin St. Louis to become the Ducks' first ever Hart winner.

He choked up during his acceptance speech at the league's awards show in Las Vegas, a welcome human touch on a night dotted with irrelevant musical acts, bad jokes and embarrassing mispronunciation of winners' names by presenters famous for being famous.

"You don't know what to expect when you come to this things," Perry said by phone. "You don't want to expect to win. But then you hear your name.

"I thought I had a great chance but you look at the other two guys and they had great chances as well."

Critics saw only his late scoring spree — he had 25 goals and 47 points in the Ducks' final 30 games, including 15 goals in 14 games in March — but he carried the Ducks through crises of goaltending, defense and confidence. And he wasn't a slouch in the first half. After a slow start he hit a point-a-game pace in October and November, then slowed but found a new level in February and couldn't be stopped.