SUN Hockey Pool

Stick it to 'em

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

DENVER -- A cynic might suggest that the Edmonton Oilers have been breaking all those sticks because they've gone brittle from lack of use.

But Jarret Stoll, who's had five of the composite shafts snap in his hands on this trip, will be calling Easton when he gets back to Edmonton.

"It has to be a bad batch,'' said the hard-shooting centre. "They've all been breaking at the shafts, not the blade, so it could be wear and tear from the faceoffs. You get a little dent on it and it's going to weaken it.

"But the one in St. Louis was a brand new one. I just got it and took a snap shot and it snapped in two. I'm thinking, 'what the heck, this is brand new.' Stoll knows he can't carry on at a rate of better than one broken stick per game, not when every snapped twig results in a missed scoring chance and leaves the Oilers shorthanded until he can get to the bench for a replacement.

"We can try and figure something out, try and beef them up, but you don't want to change the way a stick feels,'' he said.

"You do get bad batches sometimes and maybe this is all this was, but it seems like I get them all the time.''

Number's up

It's not often a veteran turns over his number to a rookie, but John-Michael Liles knew that giving his 26 to Paul Stastny was the right thing to do.

Stastny had worn the number all his life as a tribute to his father, NHL great Peter, who had the sweater retired in Quebec.

"Some of the older guys kind of told (Liles)the history of it, how I've had it my whole life,'' said Stastny, fourth in rookie scoring with 13 points. "It was a gracious move on his part. It's an honour to have that number. It's a lot better than 62. I feel fortunate to get it.''

In his first game with 26, in Montreal, Stastny scored a first-period goal.

"My dad was pumped,'' he said. "He got to watch that game from Europe. He was pretty excited.''

Liles says he didn't hesitate handing over the number once he learned the significance.

"I didn't know that Peter's number had been retired in Quebec until about a week before the switch,'' he said. "Once I'd heard that, it kind of struck a chord. It was the right thing to do. I've known Paul and his family for quite a while. The fact he's a friend makes it a lot easier.''

With that, Liles called former Av Rob Blake, to ask about wearing his old No. 4.

"I told him he was one of the reasons I wore 4 in the first place. He was very, very supportive, and that made it a lot easier.''

Shirts and skins

The Avs almost didn't have any sweaters at all for their last game in Nashville. It seems the plane with the shirts on it was delayed, forcing the team to take the pre-game warm-up in their practice sweaters.

They would have had to play the game in them, but the game sweaters arrived moments before the opening faceoff.

"Even after 12 years in the league I'm still seeing new things,'' said Ian Laperriere. "When the jerseys came in, everybody started applauding our trainers.''


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