Curing Pronger Syk-ness

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

Petr Sykora is the cure for the Chris Pronger Condition.

The guy is helping cure the deep depression in which Pronger left Edmonton when he asked for a trade only hours after the Oilers played in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.

He's made Edmonton "hockey happy" again.

Actually, that's how Sykora described his own condition after putting together a four-point night to lead the Oilers to a 5-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes.

"It's not about points. It's about being hockey happy," he said.

"I'm being put in a situation where I have a chance to score all the time. When you play with Ales Hemsky, goals are going to come. I'm just very hockey happy. It's not about how many, it's about how happy."

Tomorrow night the Oilers go against Pronger in Anaheim and the mood and attitude in Edmonton makes it less of an occasion.

WHAT A START

Sykora, so far full value for his $2.9 million US, has been brilliant in helping his new team get out of the gate with a 6-2 record.

"I've never had a start like this before," said the native of Pilzen, otherwise the home of Pilsner beer.

"I don't really want to think about it," he added of a start which projects to beat his best season with the New Jersey Devils - a 35-goal, 81-point year in 2000-01.

Sykora has six goals and seven assists for 13 points in eight games.

With a two-goal, three-point night against the Calgary Flames, he opened the season with a bang.

He's had a league-leading three game winners. He's had four multiple point games. And he's put up points in six of the eight games.

The player Kevin Lowe signed with the extra money left over from Pronger's $6 million-a-year US contract, has been a steal of a deal.

"He's been a good fit," said Lowe last night.

"Getting Petr is a result of the coaches' analysis of what the team needed. In our minds he was multidimensional. He could play the point on the power play and fill part of the void left by Pronger and Jaroslav Spacek.

"He's a Ritch Winter client and he really wanted to play here and he'd spent his summers here when he was young. We didn't have to sell him on playing in Edmonton."

Sykora came here and said the right things right off the bat for the city which had been crushed by Pronger's request for a trade out of town.

"I like the city. When I was 15-16-17, I lived here in the summer with a family. I really like the city," said the Czech who was selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft here in 1995.

"I don't know who would not like to play here. This is a great organization with an unbelievable history. It's something special and I'm very excited about it."

Playing on a line with Hemsky and now Patrick Thoresen is what may make him want to stay here for the future.

"That line was really special for us," said coach Craig MacTavish.

"Ales was really special tonight as well as Petr. And Thoresen ... I don't know if we have a player who plays his position as well as he does," he said of Norway's hockey hero."

CHEMISTRY

MacTavish says what's happening with that line proves something that Sykora can't help but notice.

"You can't do it by yourself. You have to have the chemistry. Petr has that shot and is a smart player offensively. Thoresen has really meshed in. And there's not much Hemmer can't do."

Sykora is on a one year contract.

Could he be leaving at the end of this season, too?

Considering Pronger's departure has been blamed on wife Lauren not liking it here, inquiring minds need to know how Renata, the woman he married last year, likes it here.

"She's been here for three weeks," he said. "I think she likes it."


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