|Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish presents Ethan Moreau with his jersey adorned with the captain's "C" on the front prior to the start of the regular season. (photo: Andy Devlin/EOHC) |
Ethan Moreau says talk is cheap.
That, in a nutshell, explains why he was named Edmonton Oilers captain prior to 2007-08. Moreau is a no-frills type and it shows in the way he carries himself as Oilers' leader.(Catch an NHL Network Special on Ethan Moreau on Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. ET) Click here to watch a sneak preview of the NHL Network Special with Ethan Moreau
"The captaincy is about selfless hockey," Moreau told NHL.com. "When you preach certain things and certain aspects of the game, you better go out and do it yourself. If you're in the locker room, telling guys to compete and play physical and do things that are necessary to win hockey games, you better do them or else your message is lost.
"Words are fine if you follow through with your actions. I think that's something I do very well."
It's also something he learned from one of the more respected captains in Oilers history, defenceman Jason Smith (1998-07).
"Jason was here for 8 seasons and was one of the steadiest captains in Oilers history," Moreau said. "We were close friends and I learned a lot from him. Throughout my career, I've been around good leadership wherever I've played. I played under former captains like Chris Chelios (Chicago), Doug Weight (Edmonton), Kelly Buchberger (Edmonton) and Jason and I kind of learned from all those guys. Being named captain was a huge honor for me. The tradition in Edmonton speaks for itself with the players who have worn the 'C.'
"I'm aware of the responsibility that comes with it and I have tremendous pride every time I put the jersey on," he said. "It's one of those things that, when you're career is over, you'll look back on and really cherish."
Moreau's teammates say their 33-year-old leader always has their back.
"Since day one, he's been a consummate team guy; someone you really respect," center Sam Gagner
said. "He's a professional, comes to work every day, and shows the young guys what it takes to be a successful player in the League. I think up to this point, he's probably been our most consistent player. He keeps things light around the room and let's guys have fun and I think that's huge. I think our entire team attitude is a reflection of Ethan."
"Making him captain was a no-brainer," said defenceman Sheldon Souray. "He's been around here a long time and is very well-respected; a true Oiler. You know what you're getting with Ethan. He'll stand up for anyone and you could only be so lucky to have a guy like that on your team."
|Oilers captain Ethan Moreau steps onto the ice in the team's season opener. (photo: Andy Devlin/EOHC) |
At no time was that more prevalent than on Nov. 1 against the Carolina Hurricanes. As the first period was winding down, Carolina's Tuomo Ruutu slammed Edmonton's Denis Grebeshkov against the boards, prompting Moreau to come off the bench and drop the gloves with the Hurricanes' agitator. The fight ended with both players lying on the ice and Moreau receiving a 10-minute misconduct.
"When you see a guy sticking up for a teammate like that, it really gets your energy level up," Gagner said.
Moreau didn't consider his actions against Ruutu that big a deal - it was his job.
"Ruutu had hit (Ales) Hemsky earlier in the game and then hit Grebs (Grebeshkov), who hasn't even played since that hit," Moreau said. "It's something I would have done even if I wasn't captain, really. I'll always stick up for my teammates and I would expect guys to do the same for me. That's part of my role on the team; there has to be some accountability for hits like that, regardless if it's clean or not. It's a role I have on this team and one I'll always have. I'll do those things when the situation calls for it and I think guys around the League know I will."
After the penalty, Moreau would eventually seal the deal in the third, scoring twice with less than 2 minutes remaining to give Edmonton a 3-1 victory.
"Ethan is a great captain," said 39-year-old goalie Dwayne Roloson. "He was in a tough situation being named captain after Jason Smith, so he's filling some big shoes but he's done a great job. He always comes to the rink upbeat and he's the type of guy who will always talk to you when you need to talk. When he's on the ice, he's the type of guy who just goes out and gets it done - whether lying down or going face-first to block a shot. I sometimes notice that he keeps reminding himself to keep pushing, because he has the potential to be as good, if not better, than Jason (Smith) as the captain."
"He's been our most consistent player since the start of the season," coach Craig MacTavish said. "He gives us lots of verbal and visual intensity in the way he plays and, on top of that, he plays smart."
Now that Moreau's established as Oilers' leader, he hopes for a return to the Stanley Cup Final. In his only appearance in the championship round in 2006, the Oilers dropped a 7-game series to the Hurricanes.
"The only positive you could really take out of losing a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final is being able to use that experience in the final game," Moreau said. "To be honest, it's a very tough thing mentally to get over a loss when you're that close. So, there isn't much good you take out of it unless you get back there and win it. Hopefully, by the end of my career, I'll be able to use that experience I gained in '06 to help the team win a Stanley Cup." Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com.