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."


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."


Photo: mastermaq/Flickr

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. 


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

  • PlayDirty

    Some of you are absolutely amazing when it comes to your ability to focus on the negative!

    The Chopper of 99-06 was a good hockey player who we could use 3 of currently.

    Yes, 07-10 was a different story but you need to consider if his deterioration was a by-product of the Oilers’ downfall and the need to play up higher in the line up than he should have been given his diminishing skill-set.

    …much the same as 4, 93, 14 had to do to start their careers.

  • YFC Prez

    Marchant Moreau Grier…..Haven’t seen a third line like that since they were sent off. Here’s hoping Mac T can find players that match the intensity they brought.

  • One is not enough considering our lineup . 3-6 is more like it in todays game . You’ll also see two more physical veteran defencemen on board before season starts I believe . Dubbie stays until we form a competitive team around him .Therefore , only an inexpensive backup is required ,and that might even be Khabby as interim .Goalie not as high a priority right now .

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Few players in the league were as affected by the post 04 lockout rule changes more than Ethan Moreau. Clutching and grabbing was no longer an effective style of play. Having the added burden of wearing the C and playing and old school punishable style of game helped things turn rapidly for him here in Edmonton. After losing the one leader they had in Pronger, it all fell into the crapper for this team, left with nothing but a roster full of support players. Without a leader it all fell apart quickly for this hockey team. Management clung to guys who lived at that 90-95% effort level, and never that 95 to 100% effort that’s needed most nights. What we’ve been through the last 5 yrs is a direct result of hanging onto these types for far too long. Hemmer,Horc and Smyth need to move onto greener pastures.

  • Lowetide


    So this is what we are left with? Scraping the bottom of the barrel here, aren’t we?

    Moreau was also the second worst captain in history and help create a divide in the dressing room. Typical Oilers fans, celebrating mediocrity.

    Lowtide this a great serial and has been great to reflect on the memories of players in the past, but surely their are players from the 80’s that deserve accolades much more then bums, like Moreau. Pronger deserves more accolades then Moreau and Smyth. If it wasn’t for pronged there would not have been any 2006 SC run that you hold so dear.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      I don’t think you’ve quite caught the spirit of LT’s historical posts.

      LT isn’t merely digging up memories of the Coffeys, Kurris, etc., he’s digging deep into the rosters of the past (good, bad and everything in between) — and a former captain who played several hundred games is exactly the kind of target to get reviewed.

      Finally, this is hardly a hagiography. The warts are all there.

      • Tikkanese

        Not even an Oilers fan, they are not knowledgable about hockey. No one would say that for Bourque vs Forsberg in Colorado, or Hossa vs Holmstrom or even Draper in Detroit

        On a side note, If LT does one on Pronger, I hope he includes Pronger’s “warts” of his off ice activities that were the reason of his leaving.

  • Tikkanese

    Wasn’t he also the youngest Captain in Blackhawks history?

    He was at the least their Captain before coming here as well for career accomplishments.

    Moreau was a great Captain, don’t let how it ended here cloud your overall judgement on him. He was hardly a bum.

  • Lowetide

    Times change , just like we are now attempting to do for a second time already in 7 years .The first rebuild failed miserably -now onto the second rebuild around the youth . Success and forward progress has been minimal up till now no doubt about it .

    If youth don’t turn out much better than they have so far, coupled with a core not much better , we will remain a perennial cellar dweller club . Even being optimistic I give it only a 50-50 chance at best we become a competitive club .

  • Captain suck. Selfish captain who fostered a losing attitude that spread like a virus in the dressing room. Always took penalties… and they made him captain? Bad mgmt is what it boils down to (thanks again Lowe). He was pretty good pre-captain with Marchant and Grier no one will doubt that.

    His legacy: one of the worst captains in the NHL.

  • Tikkanese

    A very very good foot soldier in the first part of his oiler career.

    Becoming Captain was not a good move for any of the parties involved. It just wasn’t a good fit.

    In fairness to Chopper, he and his wife did a lot of good deeds in the community, and as far as his game, he played balls out every night, and at some point everyone’s body will break down playing that style—you just can’t predict when that will happen.

    Sadly, when his body broke, his entire game went downhill and it seemed to coincide with the implosion of the team.

  • Tikkanese

    Man oh man those with negativity really have no respect. Moreau maybe wasn’t the best captain but he could play very tough hockey when needed. Sure his play went south in the end but every single damn player out there goes thru it all too….either too late with waivers or they retire.

    In my mind, as a would be armchair GM, (from the Oilers past roster only) I would easily and always….. select/take/trade for…. a young aggressive Moreau, a tough Jason Smith, a young Ryan Smyth, along with a young Mike Grier, Todd Marchant, even a Pisani or Peca etc,…for of my bottom six and defence with the excellent Kiddie core we have today.

    Note that I could easily look for or add many others from the Oilers past too….such as a young Dave Hunter, McClelland, Lumley, Mark Lamb, Norm Lacombe, lee Fogolin, Randy Gregg, etc, etc, etc.

    Now I sincerely say thanks to Moreau for those many tough games and great playoffs, those many fights ya did for your teammates, and a big thanks for you and your wife with doing many community events and charities you did.