SUN Hockey Pool

Caught up in the excitement

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

Daryl Katz's commitment to winning is evident.

The Edmonton Oilers were trying to land the biggest free-agent fish out there.

Yet although Marian Hossa decided to take significantly less money to play elsewhere, those who do play here welcome the change in attitude brought in by the new owner.

"To build a good team, it has to start from the top," said Oilers defenceman Steve Staios. "To see that commitment that's coming with the new ownership is great.

"It definitely builds confidence for us as a team to see the aggressive mentality when it comes to free agency and making trades. I think it's a real big step for us as well."

Just because Hossa turned his back on the city doesn't mean the Oilers are done fishing. The money they were willing to spend on luring the free agent to the city is still there. And Katz has no reservations about spending to the cap.

"It's exciting; he's bringing a lot of new things to the organization," said winger Fernando Pisani. "He can afford to get new players on the ice and is looking at building new facilities for us to use. And obviously having a new building is something that guys are looking forward to."

Along with cash for players, Katz also pledged to begin discussions with the U of A on a new hockey centre of excellence and continuing the process of building a new arena.

All of which has even the players a little giddy.

"I think with the way we finished last season there has been a lot of excitement with that already," Pisani said. "And with the more and more things that are building, it's exciting to see where the organization is heading. I think that's exciting for a player.

"They're looking into a new facility very heavily now, so there are a lot of good things that are going into this organization and the players are very excited for that."

Finishing on a 14-5-1 run down the stretch last year and just missing the playoffs - with their top defenceman and leading scorer out of the lineup - left the Oilers optimistic heading into this year.

And although the team expected some changes during the off-season in order to get them over the hump, the trading away of Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene and Raffi Torres did take some by surprise.

"I think so," Staios said. "I know that we were all feeling pretty good about what we were doing. It's sad to see some of the guys go that we played with and battled in some big games with. At the same time it's hard not to get excited about the players we acquired and the position we've taken in going out and acquiring players."

Now it's just a matter of trying to convince free agents Edmonton is a good place.

"I think it's going to be very instrumental to have an owner with this much passion and him being such a fan of the team," said Kyle Brodziak. "It's good to know the commitment is going to be there right from the owner down.

"It's always a confident feeling knowing that he's going to be doing his best to help the organization in any way he can try and win a Stanley Cup. As a player, I'm excited for that."


Videos

Photos