May 17 2013 07:25AM
For over a decade, Ethan Moreau skated portside for the Edmonton Oilers checking line. He was tough, rugged and could score some goals, became a leader and captain during his time in Edmonton.
Ethan Moreau arrived in Edmonton via trade from Chicago. It was a huge deal, one of those that takes some time to sort through and decide a winner. Moreau was an up and coming physical winger for the Chicago Blackhawks, a team that was struggling to win hockey games during the 1998-99 NHL season.
On Friday night, March 19, 1999 Chicago waived veterans Bob Probert, Dave Manson and Doug Zmolek. The next morning, Saturday, March 20, 1999, The Blackhawks pulled the trigger on a large trade with Edmonton's Glen Sather:
- Chicago traded L Ethan Moreau, R Daniel Cleary, C Chad Kilger and D Christian Laflamme to the Oilers for D Boris Mironov, L Dean McAmmond and D Jonas Elofsson.
Sather made another deal (same day), bringing Tommy Salo in from the Island, finally replacing Curtis Joseph after a rocky year trying to replace him.
- Slats: "It is a major shakeup for the team and it is unfortunate to do it at this time of year, but we felt we needed to inject life into the club."
GRITTY WINGER WITH SOME SKILL
This summer, Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish will search the free agent lists and available players on other rosters in search of a gritty, physical, punishing winger with size and speed. Looking into the Oilers own past, we wouldn't be going too far astray in suggesting MacT might be looking for an Ethan Moreau type. The new GM certainly appreciated him as a player:
- MacT in December 2005: "You can't help but get inspired watching that type of effort from the guy. He creates something almost every time he touches the puck--out of frit, hard work and intensity. It's a great example for everybody and I'm happy to see him get rewarded for it."
WILLINGNESS TO COMPETE
Moreau was a role model for the younger Oilers during much of his time in Edmonton, and his attitude and effort had a lot to do with his emergence as a team leader.
- Moreau: "A lot of it comes down to your willingness to compete and win. If you win one battle along the way, on the powerplay or the penalty kill, it makes a world of difference."
Moreau made his mark as a tough, intelligent two-way winger on the '3line' for the Oil--mostly with center Todd Marchant and right winger Mike Grier in the early years and then later with Jarret Stoll and Fernando Pisani. One of the 'turning points' in the career of Moreau as an Oiler was new coach Pat Quinn's decision to put him on the 4th line opening night fall 2009.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
When MacT left, Moreau and the veterans were used in different situations. Moreau (along with Shawn Horcoff, Fernando Pisani) was used in defensive situations more often, and an eye injury in 2008-09 seemed to impact his career in a negative way. Also, Moreau played the game with abandon and by the time Pat Quinn arrived Moreau's body was breaking down more often and the results didn't match the effort and desire.
Moreau always took a lot of penalties, but provided other things that allowed team and fanbase to overlook them. As his ability to play his style of game faded, those penalties became a focal point and Moreau's popularity waned over time. Moreau became a less valuable player whose contract was out of sync with his performance. As the team kept losing and posting disappointing results, Moreau--the captain--became a lightning rod for all that was wrong in Edmonton.
When Steve Tambellini announced in the spring of 2010 that he was changing the culture, it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the captain of the team wasn't long for the Oilers.
Moreau was claimed on waivers by the Columbus Blue Jackets June 30, 2010. Steve Tambellini's "culture change" was underway.
- King Clancy Award winner, 2008-09
- took a lead role in the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation and in particular the Inner City High School project.
- He also led the charge in the dressing room for the "Caps for Cancer" and "For Puck Surprise" programs, which raised more than $300,000 combined for local charities.
- Moreau's commitment to his community included work with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Canadian Cancer Foundation and the United Way, along with regular visits to the Youth Emergency Shelter and Stollery Children's Hospital.
- Owner of one of hockey's greatest nicknames ("Chopper")
- Oilers captain, 2007-2010
- 12th on list of games played by an Oiler (653)
- Member of the 2006 Oiler Stanley Cup finalists