Sunday 'could be last game' as Oiler: Moreau

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI , QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:18 AM ET

At some point before Sunday night’s game, or maybe as time winds down in the third period, Ethan Moreau and Steve Staios will take one last look around Rexall Place.

This is the final home game before the March 3 NHL trade deadline and two of the veterans on Steve Tambellini’s trading block are well aware that this might be their farewell performance in copper and blue.

“It could be my last game,” said Moreau, who joined the Oilers on March 20, 1999 and became their captain before the 2007 season. “I’ll probably think about it Saturday. I always try to prepare for things that I can control, and this is an uncertainty that I can’t control, but yeah, there is a very real possibility that this is my last game as an Oiler.”

Same with Staios. He and Moreau and their families will be flying to Maui over the break, along with a personal trainer, to strengthen up for the stretch run, wherever that might be.

They both have long histories in Edmonton, highlighted, of course, by the run to the Stanley Cup final, but with Edmonton in a rebuilding mode that’s going to take several years to complete they know full well that veterans are expendable.

“You have to be realistic,” said Staios, 36. “In the situation we’re in, that’s what tends to happen. I’m sure (getting traded) will cross my mind a little bit over the break.

“For me. it’s a little bit of an uncertain time, but I’ve been through this before and my experience will help me focus on the right direction.

“Whatever happens, I try to show up every day and put in my best effort and be a good leader. That won’t change.”

In the meantime, the Olympic break is a welcome oasis, for vets and rookies alike, from a season gone horribly wrong. As much as they’ll use it to rest and repair their bodies, it’s the psychological break that will be most appreciated.

“It’s going to be nice to get away from the game,” admitted Moreau, 34. “It’s been a pretty tough 60 games mentally for everyone, it’ll be a welcome break for sure.”

For everyone, fans included. Time apart is the best thing for the Oilers situation right now.

“You try not to let yourself get wrapped up in our position,” said Staios. “It’s been very difficult to take but you have to keep soldiering on and show up to work. You can’t let yourself get down.

“After the game on Saturday it will be a bit of a time to reflect and heal mentally a little bit because nobody wants to be in this position, it really takes its toll.

“We have been playing better lately (four wins in the last seven games), so we’ll use this last game to try and feel good about ourselves going into the break.”

Keeping focus in this final game before the Olympic break will be like trying to hold the attention of high school kids on the last day before summer holidays, but head coach Pat Quinn says the players owe it to themselves and the fans to play hard to the final whistle.

“That’s the challenge all the time in an 82 game schedule, but we’re in a unique situation here,” said Quinn. “There probably isn’t a lot to think about in a positive frame of mind except self improvement and being a professional and making sure you understand that people who’ve supported us deserve to have at least good effort.

“We constantly try to remind ourselves that that’s our obligation. It’s not token thing, it’s an every day thing.”

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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