SUN Hockey Pool

Down memory lane ...

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

Yan Stastny wasted little time studying hockey history after arriving in Edmonton yesterday.

With a trip down to Rexall Place to get settled in for the start of the Oilers' rookie camp, Stastny peered up into the rafters for a glimpse of the retired jerseys belonging to Gretzky, Kurri and Fuhr.

It was a reminder of the '80s glory days that he'd heard about first-hand from his legendary father.

"My dad's been telling me stories about Edmonton since I was young - what a great team it was," said Stastny, who was poked, prodded and timed during physicals at the University of Alberta yesterday.

"I was asking him about Fuhr because his numbers were kind of high for a goalie, but my dad said for the way Edmonton played, he was unbelievable.

"I played in an exhibition game in Quebec and looking up in the rafters was my dad's name and Michel Goulet. Here, there are so many great players that have come through this organization.

"It was a great experience and it just sent a chill down my spine seeing the names of all the great players that have been here. It was very special."

FAVOURITE SUBJECT

Hockey history has long been a favourite subject for discussion in the Stastny household. Yan's dad, Peter, was one of the most prolific European players of all time, mustering 1,239 points in 977 games, while uncles Marion and Anton lifted the brothers' combined output to more than 2,100 points.

Yan is leading the next wave of Stastnys following a 51-point effort in the defence-oriented German Elite League while brother Paul, a second-round pick by Colorado, put up 40 points in 42 games as a freshman with the NCAA champion Denver Pioneers.

Carrying on the family tradition is one thing. Achieving the same sort of status in the hockey world is another matter all together.

"My dad was a phenomenal player and his two brothers were great but I can't be thinking 15 years down the road," said Stastny. "I have a job that I have to compete for and I'll take it a day at a time.

"Marian was a better skater, a feisty competitor with a great shot. I don't think I have that shot and the whole family has that competitive spirit in them. Paul is more like my dad, more of a thinker, and he's got the best hands in the family. It's a great family that we have and I'm happy to carry the name."

Stastny was snatched up by the Oilers from Boston in a roundabout swap that was essentially the late-blooming centre in exchange for underachieving winger Brad Isbister. It was a deal that Stastny was waiting for.

"Edmonton's always been a great skating team and I feel my game is on when I skate well," he said. "It's fast-paced hockey and that's what I like to play.

"Anywhere you go, there's a sense of history but in Canada, especially Edmonton in the '80s in the Gretzky and Messier era. I was very happy to come here - to come to a team that wanted me and is willing to give me an opportunity."

The Oilers were impressed by Stastny during his stint with the American team at the world championship this past spring. They got someone with significant upside. "Like when Hemmer (Ales Hemsky) came in a few years ago and made the team, we will make spots for any of the young guys that are ready to play," said GM Kevin Lowe.

A STEP UP

"Yan might have a step up on some of those guys because he's a couple years older and has already played pro at a pretty high level. What sort of role he plays this year is important but it's fitting in with a group of guys over a long period of time that we see as a nice fit as well."


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