SUN Hockey Pool

Staios becoming a guidance counsellor

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:26 AM ET

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The numbers put the situation into perspective.

Steve Staios has played more NHL games than the rest of the defencemen lining up for the Oilers tonight combined.

"We're a young team to start with and we're getting younger with each injury I think," Staios said. "It's a different challenge every day. It's something you take pride in coming to the rink, being who you are, trying to be a leader and trying to lead these guys by example."

Staios, 34, has played 691 regular-season games going into tonight's encounter against the Minnesota Wild.

Ladislav Smid, Tom Gilbert, Denis Grebeshkov, Bryan Young and Dick Tarnstrom have combined to play 434 regular-season games.

Take Tarnstrom out of the equation, and the rest of the Oilers defencemen have 165 games of combined experience.

"When you're put into a role, you have to try and do the best you can in that position," Staios said. "But there is only so much you can do. You are who you are as a player and you try to raise your level.

"But I think as a group we can try to elevate our play and I'll try to give out as much leadership as I can to the young guys and we'll go from there."

Staios is not immune to injury. Last season he was one of the blue-liners that went down, forcing the Oilers to go with a youth movement in the latter stages of the year.

So far this season, he's avoided the injury bug which has taken a bite out of Sheldon Souray, Joni Pitkanen, Matt Greene and Mathieu Roy.

Without another healthy veteran around, it's the 12-year guy the Oilers defencemen are turning to for a little guidance.

"As you see things develop, you can't be afraid to tell guys what you think or where they should be," Staios said. "When guys want to know something they ask questions and they want feedback. Hopefully I can give some of that and help some of those guys out."


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