SUN Hockey Pool

Staios looks forward to outdoor game

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:46 PM ET

CALGARY — Something about the crisp winter air seems to bring out the best in Steve Staios.

Believe it or not, the stay-at-home defenceman was the offensive star in the NHL’s first-ever outdoor regular-season game, notching a goal and adding a pair of assists for the host Oilers in a 4-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton in 2003.

“After that game, it was the only trivia question that I’d go to with my teammates — who leads the NHL in outdoor points in their career? We all got a good chuckle out of that one,” Staios said. “It was just one of those games. It was a fun event, and I’ve been teased about it a little bit ever since because I had a pretty good game.”

With four open-air games now in the books, Staios is tied with snipers Martin Havlat, Marian Hossa, Jiri Hudler and Henrik Zetterberg and fellow blueliner Brian Rafalski at the top of the NHL’s all-time outdoor scoring charts, with three points apiece.

And he’ll have an opportunity to pad his stats next February, when the Calgary Flames host the Habs in the second instalment of the Heritage Classic.

While it’s uncharted territory for most of the current Flames, Staios will be able to provide a few tips on staying warm during the Feb. 20, 2011, showdown at McMahon Stadium.

After all, the mercury dipped to -18 C for the inaugural Classic and measured closer to -30 C with the windchill.

“There’s not much you can do when it gets as cold as it was that day,” Staios said. “It was even difficult to breathe on that day — it was that cold. There was big heaters on the bench, so I’ll definitely make sure that I put in my request that they put those back on there because that was our saviour.

“Guys were probably taking the shortest shifts that they’ve ever taken in the careers that day because they wanted to get back to the bench where it was nice and warm.”

Current Flames winger Ales Kotalik participated in an outdoor game during his stint with the Buffalo Sabres, while David Moss and soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Eric Nystrom suited up in the NCAA’s so-called Cold War between Michigan and Michigan State in 2001.

Nobody, though, has a tougher act to follow than Staios, who arrived in Calgary at the trade deadline and is under contract for one more season.

After the 2003 Heritage Classic, which was witnessed by 57,167 bundled-up fans, the reliable rearguard told reporters he’d never forget the frigid outdoor game.

“There’s a long list of things I’ll remember,” Staios said. “I personally took some time in the warmup and made sure to take a good look around so I wouldn’t forget what it was like and what it felt like.

“I’ll certainly get a tape of it. I’m not big on watching old film ... Maybe as I get older, mostly as my son and daughter get older, we can sit down and have a laugh. They’ll probably be bored out of their minds, but I’d savour the feeling again.”

Turns out, the 36-year-old blueliner never purchased the commemorative DVD, but he’ll have an opportunity to update his outdoor highlight reel next February.

Maybe even reclaim sole possession of his spot in the history books.

“I guess the rule is you can’t bring up a trivia question if you’re the answer to it. That’s what everybody has been telling me, so I’ve put that away,” Staios said. “But I’m looking forward to it again. It’s fun. It’s exhilarating just being outside and playing in front of such a big crowd. And I know the city is really going to rally behind it and have a great time with it.”


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