SUN Hockey Pool

Pronger, Peca get a warm welcome

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:20 PM ET

It was a welcome befitting rock stars that greeted Chris Pronger and Mike Peca on their first day of truly being Edmonton Oilers.

The parking lot of the Oilers' office was the stage for their arrival and the pair were swarmed like celebrities - which in this town, they are.

"Being from Canada there is a distinct privilege of getting a chance to play in the National Hockey League in Canada," said Peca.

"I've always wanted to come back and play in Canada, and to see this reception today. I'm 100% positive I'm in the right spot and I'm very happy."

It was the first of many similar answers.

"I haven't had the opportunity to party like a rock star in quite a while and if this is what it's going to be like, it's going to be awesome," said Pronger, who became the highest-paid player in franchise history after signing a five-year, $31.25-million US contract on the night he was traded to the Oil.

CHANTED THEIR NAMES

The two didn't even have to speak to get the crowd of 500 or so jacked up. Fans chanted their names.

And shortly after they slipped on their new jerseys - Pronger's familiar 44 and Peca sporting 37 since he lost a coin flip for 27 to Georges Laraque - the crowd was off again.

"We want the Cup! We want the Cup!"

So how about it?

"There's times you can say it just for the sake of getting everybody to scream loud," offered Peca.

"Then there's times when it's a realistic possibility.

"I believe the organization has committed itself to winning a Stanley Cup and as players we recognize that and we'll be disappointed if we fell short of that."

"I'd by lying if I wasn't expecting to make the playoffs and contend right now," said Pronger, which further endeared him to the masses.

"If you look at the lineup that we're going to be able to put out on the ice and with the new rules that are in place, we're definitely going to be an exciting team.

"As we saw last year with Calgary, anything can happen in the playoffs."

Ah, the C word. Now that you've mentioned it ...

"Suffice to say it will be the Battle of Alberta," smiled Pronger.

It was more of what the fans wanted to hear from their new favourites.

"Now it's time for a cold beer to celebrate," said Tom Pomeroy, who skipped out of work to grab some autographs.

"I think we showed a couple of guys that in a small market, hockey is so huge, and they got an opportunity to see how we feel about them."

The Heartland was thinking Hockey.

"This is incredible," said Oilers fan Dana Rylee, a Vancouver resident who grew up in Edmonton.

"This is a true hockey town. We live and breathe hockey."

The Oilers are the biggest show in town, a new feeling for both Peca and Pronger, who came from markets where their former teams were most often near the bottom of pecking order.

ONE SHOW IN TOWN

"It's like coming to work on Broadway every night," said Peca. "You're the one show in town and the fans can't wait to come out and see you. And we're looking to put on a top-notch performance every night."

Just like rock stars.


Videos

Photos