Staios looking forward to fresh start

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

There's no reason to believe the Oilers will make like the San Jose Sharks and rip the letters off their captains, leaving all the leadership positions up for grabs in the preseason.

But there will be a definite change in the weather, for youngsters and veterans alike, when Edmonton opens training camp next month.

After missing the playoffs three years in a row and watching a fired coach take most of the blame, the Oilers are smart enough to realize that nobody's role on this perennial also-ran should be taken for granted.

With a new coaching staff comes a new way of doing things, from the way they practise and play to the way they manage the dressing room hierarchy.

That means the likes of Ethan Moreau, Steve Staios, Shawn Horcoff and Sheldon Souray are back on a learning curve.

"It's up to the coaching staff how we fit in as a leadership group and how much we're used in certain situations on and off the ice," said Staios, a longtime alternate captain who's back in Edmonton and skating at Perry Pearn's conditioning camp.

"That's something I'm looking forward to finding out. It'll be a fresh start for everybody."

On a team that most definitely needs one.

With Pat Quinn at the helm in place of Craig MacTavish, this camp will mark the first time in nine years that Edmonton has a new coach, and the first time since Bryan Watson in 1980 that the Oilers brought in someone from outside the organization.

As is always the case when a new boss arrives on the scene, the employees will be sitting up a little straighter.

"It should be like that every year," said Staios, whose work ethic and commitment are seldom, if ever, questioned.

"Everyone talks about coming to training camp with a new coach, I don't see why anybody would think this is any different from when we had (MacTavish).

"Training camp is a time for guys to come in and prove they got themselves fit and ready for the season. It shouldn't change, but if it does for the better for some guys, it's a positive."

A pretty large segment of an increasingly frustrated fan base wanted to see more than just a few new suits behind the bench, but with GM Steve Tambellini handcuffed by Edmonton's existing contracts there hasn't been much room to manoeuvre.

That's OK by Staios, who doesn't think wholesale change is the only way to get back into the playoffs.

"As far as player personnel goes, that's not up to us, but I don't think they're leaving us shorthanded with the team we have," he said.


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