Vets wowed by dramatic day

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

Steve Staios is just as excited as you are.

While Oilers management is wheeling and dealing and showing they're not afraid to make a big pitch for a big fish, the veterans in Edmonton's dressing room are cheering as loudly as anyone else in the city.

The players are thrilled to know that, finally, Kevin Lowe can be a player, too.

"For all the years I've been here, we've always known that ownership was committed to the team, but this is on a different level," defenceman Steve Staios said of a push that saw Edmonton add Lubomir Visnovsky, Erik Cole and bait a multi-million-dollar hook for Marian Hossa.

"With the ownership change and the commitment of Daryl Katz, to have somebody tell Kevin to go ahead and make your moves, do what you have to do, the direction we're going is pretty exciting for everybody - for the organization and for the city, long term."

Shawn Horcoff's head is spinning at everything that's happened over the past few days. He says the difference between now and a few years ago is striking.

"It's a dramatic change for us in Edmonton, as fans and as players, to have an owner come in and say 'Listen, if the good players are out there, I don't care what the cap is, we're going to get those players.' I talked to Daryl today at length and he wants to win. Plain and simple. He's going to do whatever it takes. He's going to be aggressive in free agency. And that's what you want as a player, to know that ownership and management just wants to win, that that's their main focus and concern, and they're going to do whatever it takes to do it."

Katz spoke with a few veterans yesterday to say hello and outline his plan for the future. Needless to say, the calls went well.

"He's going to have a hands-on approach," said Horcoff. "He's going to be around a lot and he wants the guys to feel comfortable with him, and he's off to a good start."

Captain Ethan Moreau says whether they get Hossa or not, the fact that Edmonton is in there, making a strong play for a guy that nobody expected to come here in a million years shows this franchise is heading in a new direction.

"It's encouraging," he said. "At least we're trying. We're trying to get better, we're trying to get to a point where we're contenders again, and we're not far off. We'll see what happens here in the next day or two.

"We're good right now. We're a good team, regardless of what happens. Even if everything falls through we're still a good team."

The last three trades made sure of that.

"It's definitely a big shake-up for a team that finished the season pretty well," said Horcoff. "And while you never want to see teammates come and go, you have to like the additions that we have. To get a puck-moving D-man of Visnovsky's skill on the back end and a power forward in Erik Cole who can score goals, I think it instantly improves our team."

"They're tops in their categories in terms of offensive defencemen and power forwards," added Staios. "You can't understate how important it is to have those two elements on your team."

And the Oilers didn't have to subtract anything from the core of players who put together that 14-5-1 run down the stretch.

"All the guys who were playing extremely well at the end of last year are still here," said Horcoff. "On top of that you're going to get a lot of veteran guys who've proven themselves coming back from injury and we're adding all these new guys. You have to be excited."

Losing Jarret Stoll, Raffi Torres and Matt Greene leaves a void in the room, but it's easier to mend team chemistry than to land high-end talent.

"It's obviously tough to lose good guys," said Staios. "All the guys who are leaving the team were good guys, great teammates. But at the same time it's hard not to be pumped about what we have coming back, and the new guys we're adding.

"And if we don't get Hossa, I don't know that (Katz and Lowe) are quite done yet."


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