Players totally 'shocked' by trade of their captain

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

Ethan Moreau called it a bad trade.

He didn't even ask, or care, who the Edmonton Oilers got in return for captain Jason Smith yesterday. If Smith is going the other way, he considers it a bad deal.

"When you're losing a guy like that it really doesn't matter what's coming the other way, it's a huge blow to our locker-room," said Moreau, Smith's teammate for eight seasons.

"I didn't even ask who we got. I don't really care right now if we're better or worse, it's more the human side of it. You lose a great friend and a great leader, the longest standing Oilers captain of all time. It's a tough one. It's probably the worst thing that can happen as far as emotions go."

All of the Oilers, still one of the closest clubs in the NHL, were mourning the loss of their friend and leader in a deal with Philadelphia.

"It's definitely shocking, I'm very surprised," said Jarret Stoll. "The way I feel right now is the way I felt after the other trade we made earlier this year (Ryan Smyth). It's shocking.

"The guys we got in return are good players, they're going to help our team. It's just tough losing guys who are good character people, who've been here a long time. Good teammates, it's disappointing losing guys like that."

The Oilers also gave up winger Joffrey Lupul in the deal for defenceman Joni Pitkanen and journeyman winger Geoff Sanderson in the exchange. Whether it pays off or not remains to be seen, but the players aren't in the mood for evaluating trades.

"It's a tough one to swallow," said Moreau. "We're like an extended family. There will be a day and time when as a player you look at your own situation, but that's definitely not in my mind right now."

Smith and Moreau and their families had just moved into a house they rented in Los Angeles. They, along with Raffi Torres, Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene, Lupul, Zack Stortini and Shawn Horcoff are all in the process of moving into the same complex to begin training. Even in the off-season, the team sticks together. So when the captain got traded, it hit them like a punch in the stomach.

"I hear some people saying he's gone downhill the last couple of years, I don't see that," said Stoll. "I wouldn't say he's Chris Pronger, but he plays all the tough minutes, he's out there in every tough situation. I'm shocked."

Losing Lupul, meanwhile, could come back to bite the Oilers big time. He'll probably score 30 on the rebuilt Flyers.

"I guarantee it," said Stoll, adding the Edmonton native, who wasn't returning calls yesterday, feels terrible about the way his brief homecoming turned out. "I talked to him, he's happy about Philly. He's good friends with (Scottie) Upshall and (Scott) Hartnell ... he's happy about them being together, he's just disappointed how it all went here."


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