SUN Hockey Pool

'I'd like to stay'

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:58 AM ET

He wants to be here. Really.

Having taken 10 seasons and, most recently, 24 hours to get here, Petr Sykora says he'd like to put down roots in the City of Champions with the Edmonton Oilers.

Sykora, who inked a one-year contract with the Oilers worth $2.9 million Aug. 11, skated with several of his new teammates for the first time yesterday at the Kinsmen Arenas.

Rubbery-legged was Sykora, who endured a 24-hour travel day that took him from Prague to Frankfurt to Calgary to Edmonton - a trek in which the airlines lost his luggage. Still, the seven-time 20-goal man from the Czech Republic is happy to be here.

Happy enough that with the ego of hockey fans in this city still bruised by being spurned by family guy Chris Pronger, Sykora was yesterday thinking out loud about wearing Oilers silks beyond this season. I like this guy already.

'TEAM ON THE WAY UP'

"I would like to do that. I'd like to stay," said Sykora, who hasn't played a single shift for the Oilers yet.

"I really see myself doing well here. It's a good team. It's an offensive team. It's a team on the way up. It's a good situation here."

Five weeks shy of his 30th birthday, Sykora has already made NHL stops with the New Jersey Devils, who selected him 18th overall in the 1995 Entry Draft, the Anaheim Ducks and New York Rangers.

That's a fair amount of moving around for a player as talented as Sykora, who has amassed 512 points in 682 NHL games since breaking in with the Devils during the 1995-96 season.

Having spent three summers here as a teenager, Sykora knows the city well. Likewise, the silky smooth forward knows this is a hockey town. That appeals to him. He sees a match here for himself and wife Renata.

Time will tell, but with a one-year contract signed, Sykora and the Oilers will get a season to see if a longer pact is mutually agreeable.

"I would love to stay in one place," he said. "I was trying to get a longer-term deal because I wanted to play here for a longer period of time.

"I got the one year and I've got a year to prove that I want to be here. I would like to stay. It's so much easier when you're with one team for a longer period of time."

HE'S VERSATILE

Sykora, represented by agent Ritch Winter, split last season between Anaheim and New York, scoring 7-13-20 in 34 games with the Ducks and adding 16-15-31 in 40 games with the Rangers.

A Stanley Cup winner with the Devils in 2000, Sykora not only can play centre and both wings - versatility that'll help Craig MacTavish sort out a deep group of forwards - he's a proven power play producer who'll mitigate the loss of Pronger.

"I'm ready to go," Sykora said. "I had the same feeling when I signed.

"I've got to get used to the players here and the coaching style. I'll do whatever they ask me to do and I'll do my best."

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AROUND THE RINK ... Petr Sykora played left wing on a line with Shawn Horcoff and Joffrey Lupul yesterday ... Raffi Torres skated with Jarret Stoll and Fernando Pisani, a threesome Craig MacTavish might put together this season ... Jussi Markkanen and Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers were the other goaltenders on the ice yesterday.


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