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MacTavish, Staios reflect on 2003 game

Coach and player in the 2003 Heritage Classic game, Craig MacTavish and Steve Staios reflect on that game and look forward to Saturday's alumni game.

by Marc Ciampa /

Back in 2003, Craig MacTavish was the Oilers head coach and had lot more on his mind when it came to inaugural Heritage Classic. 

"I thought it was a brilliant idea when I first heard it," he said. "I had no idea it was going to catch on to the level that it has. A lot of times, the Oilers don't get mentioned as the team that had the first game but it's really become a staple of the NHL marketing but just some of the games over the years have been spectacular with the snowfalls. It really embodies the great things about the game of hockey."

The weather conditions at that particular event were extremely cold, to the point where it was contemplated that it may be cancelled. 

"I remember the Players Association thought about cancelling the game because it was that cold. But the players didn't want anything to do with that. They were going to put on a show and it was pretty spectacular," said MacTavish. 

One of the players in that 2003 game, Steve Staios, talked about being in awe of the entire event. 

"More than anything, what it left you with was that feeling of a great event. We had all our families and friends in and the city, community were all on board. It was a terrific event. I'm sure they've made some improvements on how they handle things (with the ice) though I don't know what they could have done to handle that type of extreme cold any better. Ice conditions were what the were, but certainly it was a great event."

Staios is one of only two players in Saturday's alumni game who suited up for the Oilers in the 2003 edition. 

"It's a thrill, it really is. I get to be here with, first of all, Craig MacTavish and Charlie Huddy who coached me all those years in Edmonton and now we're getting to be on a team together which is cool," Staios began. "I'm the generation behind the Gretzkys, Messiers, Kurris, Coffeys, all the greats. Getting to know them over the years. Them coming to town for events. It's a thrill to be able to play on the same team with them in a game. I'm really looking forward to it."

MacTavish reflected on playing alongside players he once coached in Staios, Smyth and also Dwayne Roloson. 

"I think I wasn't too big of a jerk to those guys (as a coach) that I can't say hello to them. Coaching is a different relationship. Players and coaches have a different relationship. Three guys that I had an unbelievable amount of respect for as a coach. It's always good to see Roli, Stevie and Ryan.

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