SUN Hockey Pool

Cold greets new Oilers

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

Considering the temperature was hovering around the minus-30 C mark when the Edmonton Oilers landed at the International airport early yesterday morning, the two newest members of the club must have wondered where they'd been exiled to.

Perhaps not Ales Kotalik as much, who was acquired from Buffalo, but a week ago, Patrick O'Sullivan was basking in the warmth of sunny Los Angeles.

"I was talking to some of the guys coming home last night about what to expect as far as the weather and when it starts to warm up," O'Sullivan said. "They told me that a few years ago there was snow here in May, so I shouldn't get my hopes up for anything too soon.

"But I'm here to play hockey. I can't wait to get to know the city and it's going to be fun to play here."

O'Sullivan and Kotalik both took part in the Oilers optional skate yesterday at Rexall Place.

O'Sullivan has taken up residence in Erik Cole's old stall, while Kotalik set up shop in a vacant stall among the veterans.

Both will be making their home debuts tonight when the Oilers host the Atlanta Thrashers (7:30 p.m.) at Rexall Place.

"I've always enjoyed coming here, I've always had good games here," O'Sullivan said. "I like the ice and the atmosphere here is always great. To be part of the home team for a game here is going to be exciting. I'll probably be a little bit nervous, but I can't wait to get started."

Acquired just prior to the trade deadline from the Carolina Hurricanes, via the Los Angeles Kings, the 24-year-old winger joined the Oilers in time for the last three games of a four-game road trip. He picked up an assist in the Oilers 4-3 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

"On (Tuesday) night I felt a lot better than I did the first two games that's for sure," O'Sullivan said.

"I felt a lot more comfortable to be able to make a few more plays and do some of the things that I try and do out there. I'm starting to get used to everything here, the new guys and the system the team plays. That's been a little bit of an adjustment, but I hope moving forward in these home games I'll start to feel a lot better. We need some wins and that's what our focus is right now."

While in Edmonton, O'Sullivan will move into Jarret Stoll's old residence. Despite having been traded to Los Angeles in the off-season, the former Oilers centre still owns a condo in town.

"From what I hear, it's really nice," O'Sullivan said. "I know Stollie likes his nice things. He's now enjoying the L.A. lifestyle, but I'm looking forward to it here. Hopefully I can get out in the community and meet some people. I know it's difficult to worry about the hockey side of things and get adjusted to a new city, but I have to make it work."

Having met the team in the middle of a road trip was advantageous to both players.

While teammates go their separate ways at home, on the road, they spend the majority of their time together, allowing the two new members an opportunity to integrate with the rest of the club.

Prior to coming over from the Buffalo Sabres, Kotalik was already an acquaintance of Ales Hemsky.

"It's a little strange joining a new team while they're on the road," Kotalik said. "But you do get to spend more time with the guys and you get to know each other and the transition is a little easier.

"But it's a great group of guys in here, they're so friendly and very tight and that's what I like about this team. Hopefully we can get a good push together to make the playoffs."


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