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BLOG: Haas, Nygard offer first impressions with Oilers

"I've never seen anything like it. When I came in, I needed a couple of days to not lose myself in the dressing room," said Gaëtan Haas of the Oilers team facility

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Walking through the Oilers Dressing Room corridors for the first time, Gaëtan Haas feared he wouldn't be able to find a way out.

The team facility - with its large training areas, Downtown Community Arena practice rink, video and equipment rooms, and grand foyer - is unlike many others, so it didn't come as a surprise that Haas found himself wandering the halls.

"I've never seen anything like it," the centre, who arrived in Edmonton a few weeks ago, said. "When I came in, I needed a couple of days to not lose myself in the dressing room."

Haas wasn't kidding about getting lost in the arena but he also wasn't the only newcomer in need of a GPS to locate an exit.

"The rink and everything around here is huge," said Swedish forward Joakim Nygard following the Oilers informal skate on Tuesday. 

"I'm going to get lost in the locker room."

Switzerland is the site of the unbelievable Vaillant Arena and Sweden is home to the unique Ericsson Globe. Both infrastructures are highly regarded in the hockey world but Haas was left in awe by Rogers Place.

"Even if you're in a dream, you can't have such an arena," Haas continued. "I've played my whole career in Switzerland and my first 15 years in Biel. Then I went to Bern and it's (one of the best) stadiums in Europe. 

"Here, it's so much bigger. It's so nice. I want to stay here and I'm really happy."

While the building and city is one thing the players are getting acquainted with, so too will be the pace of play alongside National Hockey League skaters. Tuesday's session provided both Haas and Nygard with an introduction to that.

"It wasn't special, but there were a lot of players on the ice," Haas, who tallied 15 goals and 38 points in 50 games last season, said. "I was happy we played a little bit of 5-on-5 so I could see how it is because before we only did skills and power skating and no real games."

Nygard, meanwhile, felt the variance between the European ice size and the NHL's smaller surface.

"I feel the difference," he said. "But it wasn't that big of a difference as I thought."

The speedy left winger made the move to Edmonton without his wife and newborn child, who remain in Sweden, but is taking the time to get familiar with Oil Country.

Which, in the end, should keep him and his family from getting lost.

"It's been tough to leave him at home but they're coming over here in one month," Nygard said. 

"I think it's good I'm coming here alone to meet the guys and get to know everything."

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