Coming home. That was the bottom-line story Sheldon Souray, the 32-year-old defenceman who grew up idolizing the Oilers.
Souray particularly remembers carefully studying the way former Kevin Lowe, the team's president and director of hockey operations, played defense.
"My dad, who has always been an Oilers fan, reminded me that I once had Jari Kurri sign a hat for me," Souray laughed. "And no one else could touch it. My dad is still an Oilers fan. Every time he came to Montreal to see me play for the Canadiens, I had to hear how the Oilers were doing."
Maybe that's why Richard Souray and Sheldon's mom, Lillian Parenteau, did a double take the day the big defender called them to say he was coming home to play for the Oilers.
"My dad thought it was a joke when I reached him back home in Edmonton before word leaked out," Sheldon said. "My mom? Well, she was even more surprised when she found out when her plane landed in L.A. (where Sheldon makes his offseason home in Malibu) and learned of the news.
"They knew I had turned down a lot of money to return to Montreal (reportedly a four-year, $22 million deal) and had been talking to Buffalo and the New York Islanders. Never did I mention the Oilers to them."
What made this marriage so appealing was coming home ... but also being just one plane instead of two or three to visit his daughters.
"When you get to free agency, you have a lot of things to think about and my goal at the beginning was to take my time and make sure I was making the right choice," Souray explained. "Once the Oilers got in the mix and we started getting serious, it became a pretty easy decision. My heart was really in it -- and I was getting more and more excited every time I thought about putting on that uniform."
Hometown boy. Sheldon Souray just wants to be counted on in Edmonton.
"Some people don't understand about Edmonton ..." Souray stopped for a second before continuing, "Just being able to go to a coffee shop and 10 people say hello. It's that real feeling of everybody being neighbors. That charm. To me, I think, 'Wow!' Isn't it great to be a hockey player in a city like this?"