Staios: Edmontonís Classic Ďgreat eventí

STEVE STAOIS, as told to STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

CALGARY - I remember that week leading up to the 2003 Heritage Classic in Edmonton, friends and family started to come in and you could sense there was a big event happening.

The city was buzzing.

The whole buildup to the week was great and a lot of fun. The city really got behind it and the fans had a good time in the week leading up to it and on the day.

Driving to Commonwealth Stadium on game day ó†and we came in pretty early to get warmed up and get ready for it ó we could barely get a block away from the building.

There were people everywhere. You could really just sense at that point thereís a big event happening.

The weather reports were coming in. There was a question as to whether or not they could get the game in or not. There was a lot of uncertainty, a lot of things

I hadnít experienced before.

I donít know if it could possibly get any colder and have the game. That was,

I think, right on the edge as far as playable.

I remember kind of scrambling a little bit to get the right gear on for underneath, trying to figure out if I was going to wear a balaclava or not, adjusting my helmet, just trying to get your equipment as prepared as you could to meet the conditions.

We were wearing sort of thermal underwear. I think it helped.

But then at the end of the period, if youíre sweating in it, you have to take it off and put a brand new set on or else if you go out, itís gonna be cold again.

We went through three sets of undergear.

I think that was the shortest Iíve ever seen the guys take shifts. The benches were so warm. We had the heaters on the bench. It was so cold when we went out there.

I noticed right away when we got out there that after the first couple of laps after warmup, that the ice started to chip pretty good.

Another thing I remember is the flex of your stick changed quite a bit. It was that cold.

When you got the puck, it was real rigid. When you shot the puck, the flex on your stick was a lot stiffer.

There were a lot of factors to deal with.

Even just the feeling of being on a rink and the fans being far away from you ó still hearing the buzz but a little different feeling than being in a regular arena.

The whole game was more of a question of will than anything else. I think the skill level was way down.

But both teams had to play on it.

I thought at that time it was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime event. You try to enjoy it as much as we could.

I remember the day before I had my son down, whoís nine years old now, so he was two on that day.

Thereís pictures of us on the bench at the skate the day before.

I actually looked at those (this weekend).

Pretty special moment.

Overall, just a great event.

A great event for the city of Edmonton, and for the province of Alberta.

I know people from everywhere came in for it and really showed the heritage of our game and what it means to us.


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