'Very emotional'

Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

Q: How much is this going to be different in terms of being able to enjoy it a little bit more? Different emotions?

A: "I was born and raised in Edmonton and when I was drafted by Edmonton to play in the NHL, it was something that not many players have had the chance to do. I think the first ever article that was written about me, the title was: Prodigy son comes home to Edmonton. I think that alone is testimony to how far I came as a player. Just the success we had there, the people that were instrumental in our success, not only from the hockey standpoint, but also from the people in the city, that supported us and believed in us and gave us the opportunity to be successful. Doing it in front of my family is something not a lot of players in any professional sport get to do, let alone do it and have the kind of success we did."

Q: How emotional do you believe you'll get ... Will you be promising Wayne you won't cry?

A: "No, no. I'm not promising anybody I won't cry. That would be a big mistake there. I think the emotional part of it brings back so many memories and emotions because of the success we had and because we grew up together and because of the friendships we formed as players run so deep. And to this day it remains the same. I think when I get there and see my sweater hanging with all the other players and seeing them there ... Even being there for the Stanley Cup run last year, reminiscing was an unbelievable experience, so to be able to do this will be very emotional."

Q. How special will it be to have Wayne there as well as some of your other former team-mates?

A: "I think everybody knows how I feel about Wayne and what Wayne meant to the Oilers organization. For me personally, Wayne was one guy I looked to to figure out what I needed to do to be a better player. He showed us the dedication and commitment and resolve and all the things it takes to be a great hockey player. I don't think I had that. I didn't know those things going into the league. I certainly didn't know how they had to be applied. And I came from a big hockey background. Wayne was so far advanced on us in so many areas, that he was a guy - I figured out pretty quickly - if I watched what he was doing, and I tried to emulate it, I could become a better hockey player. And hopefully I did, because of him ... For him to be there when it's my sweater-raising, it means a lot to me and I'm sure for all Oilers fans, too."

Q. Have you talked to Glen Sather? Will he be here and is that important for you, too?

A: "I'm certainly hoping Glen's going to be there and I hope we can go together. Glen was a mentor of mine from the time I came into the league to the time I finished. And I couldn't imagine doing this without Glen here."

Q: Did (your father) ingrain in you something that carried you forward?

A: "Anybody who knows me and my history with my father and what he meant to me knows it goes without saying. I was very fortunate to have a father who played hockey. He played competitively and with a fierce edge. My dad, a very intelligent man, understood the nuances of the game from a character standpoint and a leadership standpoint. I had the privilege of all those things. To take it a step further, as a stickboy, I was able to watch my brother play hockey on the team my dad coached. I heard a lot of the speeches, a lot of the butt-kicking and a lot of the pats on the backs that were instrumental to my success as a leader and as a captain. My dad didn't leave anything at the rink."

Q. Craig MacTavish thinks of you as a Ranger and not an Oiler, whereas everyone in Edmonton sees you as an Oiler and not a Ranger. What do you think?

A: When I started my second career in New York, I said at the press conference I hope my second career will be as successful as the first half. And I think it was. There were twelve years in Edmonton and another 12 or 13 years after that. And really it was divided into two. You can separate the two on so many different levels. I was born in Edmonton, played for the Oilers, won five Stanley Cups, was part of an unbelievable dynasty. To this day it's a benchmark for a lot of teams. I then went to New York, the opposite side of the country, had some success. For me, I don't need to choose in that regard. I'm an Edmontonian, an Oiler. And then I lived in New York. We won the Cup there and I was a Ranger. So, I don't feel the need to decide whether I'm a Ranger or an Edmonton Oiler. I'm both and proud to be both.

NOTE: Questions and answers were edited for brevity.


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