Lupul appeals for calm

Edmonton Oilers' Joffrey Lupul (right) is held up by Phoenix Coyotes' Matt Jones during third...

Edmonton Oilers' Joffrey Lupul (right) is held up by Phoenix Coyotes' Matt Jones during third period pre-season NHL action at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., on Tuesday September 19, 2006. (SUN/Darryl Dyck)

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:30 AM ET

Joffrey Lupul knows fans have a beef with Chris Pronger.

But the Edmonton native and former Anaheim Duck hopes they don't cross the line tomorrow night.

"Edmonton is known for having very good fans, knowledgeable fans, and also pretty classy fans, too," Lupul said. "There are certain lines you don't want to cross.

"There are guys in this locker room that are still friends with him and no one wants it to get too bad."

Lupul never played with Pronger, but he was directly affected by the defenceman's request to be traded from Edmonton this summer.

It was a request that hit Oiler fans in the solar plexus, having just watched their team make it to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.

They hadn't even finished sweeping up the mess on Whyte Avenue when Pronger asked to be moved for personal family reasons.

"I can understand how fans can feel a little bit betrayed, but hopefully they'll be able to look past it and just enjoy the game," Lupul said. "He's going to have a tough night, no question. Hopefully people try and keep it within the boundaries of good taste.

"I understand some people are going to boo him, but hopefully it's not as bad as some people anticipate."

Lupul, 23, came to the Oilers along with defenceman Ladislav Smid and three draft picks in exchange for Pronger.

Having played the first two years of his NHL career in Anaheim, Lupul still has a lot of friends on the Ducks roster.

Last month, he had a homecoming of his own as the Oilers traveled to Anaheim and lost 6-2 to the Ducks.

His welcome, however, was nothing compared to the reception Pronger is expected to receive.

"They've forgotten about me already," Lupul said of the Ducks fans.

"I was definitely a little nervous the first time I played them there. I wanted to have a good game, and unfortunately we ended up losing pretty bad.

"You always want to play well against your former team. With Pronger coming back, I'm sure there'll be a lot of other stuff going on here, but I just want to win the game. They're the top team in the league."

Lost in Pronger's return is the fact the Oilers get to measure themselves up against the best team in hockey at a time when they're playing their best. The Oilers head into the contest riding a five-game winning streak.

"We're hot right now and despite the surrounding storylines around here, it's going to be a game (in which) both teams are going to bring their best effort," said Lupul. "Those guys are going to want to get a win and they're going to want to play well for Chris, especially."

"People are going to come and boo and that's their right. If you buy a ticket, you can come and boo, that's fine, but hopefully it doesn't get too bad. Hopefully the fans will be a little more classy."


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