He said he couldn't do it when he played for the Edmonton Oilers. But now that he's a member of the Calgary Flames, Steve Staios can speak glowingly of his former rivals.
"I have a high respect level for the [Calgary]guys," the newest member of the Flames defence corps said Wednesday. "You knew you were in a game when you played against them. I hope guys feel that way when they play against me."
Known for his hard-nosed, steady work, Staios became the first player in the history of the Battle of Alberta to be traded from one side (Edmonton) to the other (Calgary, for defenceman Aaron Johnson and a third-round draft pick.).
The trade was one of three the Flames made on deadline day, acquiring goalie Vesa Toskala from the Anaheim Ducks for goalie Curtis McElhinney before moving forward Dustin Boyd to the Nashville Predators for a fourth-round pick. But it was the Staios deal that raised eyebrows given his fierce play against Calgary over the past nine seasons.
"I think, at first, when I heard the news I was mostly excited. Then for a second you realize where you're going," Staios explained. "The fact I'm the first one [to be traded within Alberta]is something to talk about but, for me, it's not a big deal. It's all about going in and earning the respect of my teammates. I know the type of leadership we have from playing against them."
Staios was in Chicago where the Oilers played the Blackhawks Wednesday night. He was scheduled to be in Calgary Thursday to practise with the Flames then dress for Friday's game against the New Jersey Devils.
"I figured I'd be in some [Oiler trade]discussions. I was on a team that wasn't doing very well and veteran defenceman tend to move at the trade deadline," said Staios, who previously played for the Vancouver Canucks and Atlanta Thrashers. "The situation got bad earlier than in previous years. In the previous years we'd hang around and have a little bit of hope .... We got injuries early in the season, losing our starting goalie [Nikolai Khabibulin]and our top player [Ales Hemsky]didn't help."
Staios, who is also under contract for next season, joins a defence crew anchored by Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Giordano and Robyn Regehr. Staios had a concussion earlier this season and has been bothered by other smaller injuries, He said he used the Olympic break to train and recover.