SUN Hockey Pool

Let's celebrate!

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

Chris Pronger said he felt like a puck.

"They jumped on it fast and hard, kind of the way Oilers hockey is played."

The player who has become the biggest hockey hero in Edmonton since the Oilers were carrying Stanley Cups, was talking about how the Oilers jumped on him.

"When my agent Pat Morris called about Kevin Lowe calling, things definitely moved fast, that's for sure," said the modern-day star who has Wayne Gretzky's old town ga-ga before he's even played a game.

And that was only the half of it.

Pronger was on a conference call press conference which telegraphed the excitement level of Edmonton, when the Oilers jumped on another loose puck.

Without having even talked to the player yet, GM Kevin Lowe welcomed Mike Peca to the line and announced the Oilers were taking on salary in trading Mike York to the New York Islanders for his talents.

I'm not sure something like that has ever happened before in the history of hockey. Ah, but these are wild and crazy times.

Just when you thought giddy couldn't get any giddier it was giddy-up to the Cup as the two talked about the chances of taking the Oilers back where some fans had come to believe they'd never be able to go again.

The Oilers had just taken on Pronger's $6.25-million US salary. Now they were adding more. And Lowe, by my math, still has about $5 million US to spend from the Oilers' $33-million budget under the new collective bargaining agreement.

Lowe's first words welcomed Pronger to "the five-time Stanley Cup Champion and hoping we can get back to that."

"It's just been a wonderful few hours since the announcement," he told Pronger.

"The city is a-buzz."

Pronger said he's buzzed right back at ya.

"I can't express how excited I am. This team has a storied past and I hope we get back to that. I can't wait to get back to my roots, to get back to Canada and play some firewagon hockey. These new rules will really play into our hands now," he said.

Peca was even more over the top than that.

"Boy, I can tell you I'm really excited to be coming. Edmonton is a hockey-crazy town. I can't contain my excitement. I want to get going right away. Without question the Oilers have a chance to be a Stanley Cup contender. They have a great group of guys and now to see Chris (as) an Oiler ...

"Chris and I know we'll be coming into a welcoming environment. They have a great clubhouse. Guys care about each other. It makes that expectation of a Stanley Cup that much more attainable."

Pronger was asked, 'Why Edmonton?'

"First and foremost they wanted me. The makings of a winning-calibre team are there. I had a 10 minute talk with my wife and we were on to a new team and a new beginning. We turned the page from St. Louis to Edmonton and now I'm an Oiler."

He said he can't wait to be part of the Battle of Alberta. "I'm fired up. Those are the games you want to play. Those are the games that are fun."

Peca can't wait to escape the Eastern Conference and get to the new rules.

"I'm really looking forward to being able to provide more offence now. Defending at high speed is also what I'm capable of doing."

Both laughed at the idea of pressure coming to play in Edmonton in this situation.

"I love how much different the privilege of playing in Canada is. There is a different hockey fan in Canada," said Peca.

"The opportunity to play inside that pressure in exciting for me. I crave it. I miss it."

He misses it? Try being an at-first-spoiled-stupid then long-suffering Oiler fan. Try being Kevin Lowe. "It was really special for me when Pat Morris phoned to say Chris would love to come to the Oilers. I don't want to say I was choked up, but ...

"For me it's been five years. And before that I watched a lot of my friends and teammates leave Edmonton," said Lowe, who ended up being one of those guys and came back to ship out Doug Weight and others.

"The reaction has been unbelievable. To realize how fans had been wrapped into the inevitability of our fate ...

"I just got off the phone with Paul Coffey. He said the same things. Hopefully we're now heading into a new part of Edmonton Oilers history."

Forward to the past!


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