Moreau expected to be a free agent

Former Oiler Ethan Moreau has never been an unrestricted free agent. (KEN ARMSTRONG/QMI Agency...

Former Oiler Ethan Moreau has never been an unrestricted free agent. (KEN ARMSTRONG/QMI Agency Files)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

Ethan Moreau knew his days as an Oiler had come to an end long before the club put him on waivers.

However, the former Oilers captain figured he was on his way toward free agency until the Columbus Blue Jackets decided to claim him.

I was actually kind of surprised I think everyone expected me to be bought out and then I would be a free agent (Thursday), Moreau said. Its a little strange how it happened. But it makes you feel good that Columbus wanted me enough that they wouldnt let me get to free agency and possibly sign with a team in the West or possibly in their division.

Its not as though free agency would have been a bad thing.

Moreau has never been an unrestricted free agent and the prospect of getting an opportunity to pick his destination seemed appealing.

I wont lie, it would have been exciting, he said. Ive never been an unrestricted free agent. Ive always re-signed in Edmonton before I got to that point, which is fine. It always worked out well for me and the Oilers.

But there was some anticipation and excitement. I knew that there would have been some teams that would have made offers. Regardless of the team and the money, it would have been fun. But having said that, it gives me great peace of mind and it feels good that a team like Columbus wanted me at full value and they werent trying to get me at a bargain price.

Moreau leaves the Oilers after 11 years of service. He was named captain prior to the 2007-2008 season.

My family and I really built a life there. My kids have not known another city, Moreau said. We had a great school system, we have great friends that we met along the way and Ive been really fortunate to make some great friendships with some teammates friendships that will last a lifetime. I got a chance to play with Steve Staios for a long time. I played junior with him and were best of friends, he said, adding Jason Smith to the list of longtime friends. I have nothing but fond memories of the city and the team.

Unfortunately, things didnt end the way hed hoped with the Oilers going through a nightmare season.

It was very difficult, it was a fall from grace, he said. We were a Stanley Cup finalist and then in the last couple of years everything fell apart. It was extremely difficult for myself watching everything unravel after you put so much effort and time into something and not to see it turn-around was frustrating.

But I think its really important for fans to realize that the guys that are getting the most criticism are the guys that care the most and are trying the hardest. I know a lot of those guys are. If you give them time and have patience, there are really good people in the organization and on that team, and more importantly, personnel-wise that there are people who can turn things around.

With Columbus, Moreau gets a fresh start and a chance to prove he still has some good years left in him.

Its going to be a good fit for me and theyre going to give me an opportunity to play where I should play with (Samuel) Pahlsson on a top-end third line and Im going to get a chance to kill penalties, Moreau said. They have some top-end players and they need some leadership and some guys that can help out. I look forward to go out and doing it, and showing people that Im still a very good player and Im going to be for a while.

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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