CALGARY -- Ethan Moreau packed more than skates and pads for yesterday's flight to Cowtown, and it's a wonder his luggage didn't give equipment man Sparky Kulchisky a hernia.
Mr. Blood and Guts, or Chopper as he's called by his teammates, will hit the ice for tonight's rematch against the Calgary Flames with a four-year contract extension worth $8 million in his pocket - money well-earned for the hard-nosed left winger.
The new deal doubles Moreau's pay of $1 million for this season, keeps him off the unrestricted free agent market July 1, when he would have had a lineup of general managers 10 deep seeking his services, and will see him in Oilers silks through the 2010-11 season.
He has earned every penny.
"You guys should've figured it out," Moreau said, flashing a gap-toothed grin at yesterday's surprise announcement.
"It means a lot, obviously. It gives me an opportunity to continue to raise my family here and to play for an organization I love to be a part of."
Moreau, 31, is the only player remaining with either team from the March 20, 1999, trade that saw the Oilers send Dean McAmmond, Boris Mironov and Jonas Eloffson to the Chicago Blackhawks. In return, Glen Sather got Moreau, Daniel Cleary, Chad Kilger and Christian Laflamme.
Who thought then, with Cleary and Kilger being first-round draft picks, that Moreau would be the last man standing? Here he is, and here he'll stay, likely for the rest of his career.
"I knew it was going to be a good fit, even back then," Moreau said. "Just from day one, it was always a good fit. I enjoyed the city right away. I enjoyed my teammates and the tradition here."
GM Kevin Lowe, who once called Moreau the future captain of the Oilers - I'd love to see anybody, even No. 18, rip the C off Jason's Smith's jersey - put his money where his mouth is.
Lowe's done likewise with new deals for Ales Hemsky, Fernando Pisani and Dwayne Roloson.
"We've said all along, there are players who can fit into our overall scheme of things," Lowe said. "Ethan is certainly one of them. He wants to be here. This is the last year of his contract and there's a lot of risks on both sides, so it's nice to get a deal that will work for us long-term and it's great to have one of our leaders tied up."
On a team loaded with young and talent, Moreau, along with Smith, Steve Staios and Ryan Smyth, is the heart and conscience that strikes a balance, leads the way and complements the kids. In short, the kind of player teams do not win without.
"We get great leadership from him," said linemate Jarret Stoll. "He part of that core group of guys.
"It's good to have him locked up for a long time. I'm sure he's happy and his family is happy. He deserves it. He works so hard and does pretty much everything for this team."
With the business end done and a chance to beat the Flames twice in 72 hours, Moreau's focus will be on the task at hand tonight. That's a given. It's what he does best.
"To do it now means a lot to me," Moreau said of doing the deal now. "It shows a lot of loyalty and respect from the organization. In turn, I'll do what I've always done here."
Money well-spent, Mr. Lowe.