Happy returns to Edmonton

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:33 AM ET

Jason Wulder is happy to be back.

After a year in the Rockies, the veteran forward has returned to the Edmonton Rush under the leadership of head coach and general manager Bob Hamley.

He'll be in the lineup tonight when the Rush host the Portland LumberJax (7:30 p.m.) at Rexall Place.

"It's just the nature of the business. I wasn't sure where I was going to be playing this year and Edmonton looked like a pretty exciting team to come to," Wulder said. "With our travel schedule and the proximity from Edmonton to Vancouver, it was a nice, easy travel schedule for me, instead of having to go three hours to Denver and back.

"Having a young family, to spend as less time away from home as possible and still be able to play, it's definitely a bonus. Then when I looked at the roster it's almost a complete turnover from two years ago when I played there before. You look at the talent that they picked up combined with the guys that were there from before, they looked like a pretty exciting team, well on their way and it's something I wanted to be a part of."

Wulder, 38, a Calgary native, scored 21 goals and added 26 assists with the Colorado Mammoth last season. He was a member of the Rush in 2007, where he netted 10 goals and added 35 assists in 15 games.

"He just has great hands and great knowledge of the game," said Hamley. "He's obviously not as quick as he was during his heyday, but he can still add to our power play, which really struggled last year. It was an easy call to make, he wanted to be here and I think he's going to add to our offensive scheme."

A 14-year NLL veteran, Wulder won a league title as a member of the Calgary Roughnecks in 2004. He's expected to be a key contributor for the Rush offence this season, which lacks a big-name goal scorer.

"That was the one thing that sprang out at me when I came here, that there wasn't one guy that was a go-to, superstar type of guy," Wulder said. "It was more offence by committee, which is something I had been a part of in the summer. We shared the ball and we shared the goals, and as long as we won the game, it didn't matter who got the glory.

"It's a good situation to be under, and it's something that Bob's let us do, which is to be creative as an offence. As an offensive guy, that's something you definitely look for as a team."

Being his second tour in Edmonton, Wulder has noticed a different mindset going into the season under Hamley. The Rush are still looking to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

"Before when I was in Edmonton the attitude was 'Let's just stay in the game and if we win one, we win one', " Wulder said. "It was more or less try not to get the crap beat out of you and try to stay in it. Now we go into every game looking to win. We have the talent from our goaltender, out to compete against any team in the league."

Despite his years in the league, Wulder is still excited about getting out on the floor and playing the game.

He's coming into the season in good shape, feeling strong both mentally and physically.

"I think sometimes that's more of a challenge - staying in the game mentally," Wulder said.

"A lot of times you lose that hunger to win, but that's why I keep playing. I'd like to win again and that's why I came to Edmonton. I think they have as good a chance as anybody."


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