Souray back in a big way

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

ST. LOUIS -- Remember me?

When the Edmonton Oilers made Sheldon Souray their prize acquisition last summer, both sides of the club's biggest contract figured he'd be long past his new-team jitters by Dec. 11. But a separated shoulder cut short his Oilers acclimation, so the $6.25 million man has to reintroduce himself to his teammates.

"You're trying to prove yourself all over again," said Souray, who returned to the blue-line last night in St. Louis after 26 games on the shelf.

"There's never a good time to be injured, especially when you're just getting your feet wet with a new team."

He doesn't have to start from scratch; he made a decent impression in his first six games, before hurting his shoulder in an Oct. 13 fight with Byron Ritchie. Then he and the Oilers made a point of staying close during the rehabilitation process, which helped him feel like part of the team.

"Being around the guys, and the ups and downs you go through, it's important that you get that," said Souray, who wasted little time in making an impact, scoring on a bullet from the point in the second period.

"It's been good because I've been able to skate a certain amount of times with the guys and I've always been around the guys.

"They've been really good about taking me on trips, giving me structure and routine. Although it's been a long time (since he played) I feel like I've been a part of it."

He says the shoulder is "as good as it's going to get'' and it didn't seem to limit his game any. He took a big hit early on from Lee Stempniak and doled out several of his own as the night wore on.

Everyone has been waiting a long time to see his booming shot and physical presence in front of the net, but he cautions that it's going to take some time before he's at full speed.

"You have to be realistic," he said. "No one's a saviour; you're not going to turn it around and be a first place team. It takes a little while for guys to integrate themselves."

OIL DROPS ...

D Mathieu Roy cleared waivers yesterday and will remain in Springfield while Allan Rourke (a healthy scratch last night) stays up as the seventh defenceman. Dick Tarnstrom, who's been out with a concussion, is expected back any day now.


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