There’s a handful of players on this list who worked their backsides off and did whatever it takes just to make it to the NHL. Steve Staios, who spent 573 games with the Edmonton Oilers during an NHL career that spanned 1,001 games, might be the poster boy for all of them.

Given his upbringing in the east end of Hamilton, that’s no surprise. No matter how you perceived Staios as a player during his tenure with the Oilers, he gave you everything he had, and a little bit more. He was an honest, tough player who thanked his lucky stars for every day he wore an NHL uniform. He knew how to work. He learned that early in life.

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Steve Staios

Defence/Right wing

Born Jul 28 1973 — Hamilton, ONT 

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Height 6.00 — Weight 200 [183 cm/91 kg]

Drafted by St. Louis Blues

Round 2 #27 overall 1991 NHL Entry Draft


Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
1995-96 Boston Bruins NHL 12 0 0 0 4 -5 3 0 0 0 0
1995-96 Peoria Rivermen IHL 6 0 1 1 14 -1
1995-96 Worcester IceCats AHL 57 1 11 12 114 -4
1996-97 Boston Bruins NHL 54 3 8 11 71 -26
1996-97 Vancouver Canucks NHL 9 0 6 6 20 2
1997-98 Vancouver Canucks NHL 77 3 4 7 134 -3
1998-99 Vancouver Canucks NHL 57 0 2 2 54 -12
1999-00 Atlanta Thrashers NHL 27 2 3 5 66 -5
2000-01 Atlanta Thrashers NHL 70 9 13 22 137 -23
2001-02 Edmonton Oilers NHL 73 5 5 10 108 10
2002-03 Edmonton Oilers NHL 76 5 21 26 96 13 6 0 0 0 4
2003-04 Edmonton Oilers NHL 82 6 22 28 86 17
2004-05 Lulea HF SEL 7 2 1 3 12 3
2005-06 Edmonton Oilers NHL 82 8 20 28 84 10 24 1 5 6 28
2006-07 Edmonton Oilers NHL 58 2 15 17 97 -5
2007-08 Edmonton Oilers NHL 82 7 9 16 121 -14
2008-09 Edmonton Oilers NHL 80 2 12 14 92 -5
2009-10 Edmonton Oilers NHL 40 0 7 7 59 -19
2009-10 Calgary Flames NHL 18 1 2 3 16 -8
2010-11 Calgary Flames NHL 39 3 7 10 24 6
2011-12 New York Islanders NHL 65 0 8 8 53 -19
NHL Totals 1001 56 164 220 1322 33 1 5 6 32


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Statistically speaking, Staios enjoyed the best three years of his NHL career with the Oilers from 2002-06. After seasons of 26 and 28 points, he hit 28 again in 2005-06 when the Oilers went to the Stanley Cup final. For Staios, it was never really about points, though. It was about competing and being the best he could be, putting the work in.

Growing up in Hamilton, Staios and his family of five lived in a tiny apartment above the variety store his father, Paul, operated. He always marveled at the hours his parents worked, relating it to how lucky he felt to play in the NHL and make the money he did. He often talked about how those days shaped him as a young man.

It was no big surprise, then, when Staios left a position in player development with the Toronto Maple Leafs – he also served as an assistant coach — last July to return to Hamilton to become the president of the OHL Bulldogs, who were relocating from Belleville.

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“I wanted to come back to Hamilton,” Staios said in an interview with the Dundas Star about returning to his roots and his upbringing in the city. “This is about more than just playing hockey. I thought about it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”

Unlike some players who struggle with leaving the spotlight of the NHL when their playing days are done, Staios had no problem leaving his job with the Maple Leafs to return home. He never sought the spotlight as a player, so he doesn’t miss it now. Grateful for it? Yes. Live for it? No.

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Staios was a good player with the Edmonton Oilers. He was a better man and somebody who served as a shining example of what’s possible if you put the work in to young players later in his career here. That counts for plenty in my books.

This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up. 

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.


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    • Rob...

      That’s a little harsh. Not many NHL players stop playing as soon as their stats begin to dive. They play until they’re done in by injuries or their games played & time on ice nosedive.

      Not to mention, there aren’t many jobs I know of that aren’t ripe with staff who are past their prime; trades aren’t an option for their bosses though.

      At least Chiarelli seems to understand the value of players who give their all, like Staios did.

      • Spydyr

        It was not meant as a slight at all.

        Staios was on the downhill side of his career and was traded at the right time.

        That does not happen with the Oilers often.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    I wonder if Garry Unger made the list, and if so, what place he will fall.

    I love these updates Robin. Reminds me of better times, and I’ll admit….I was a young man (9) in 79-80, and was spoiled by my home team.

  • I tried it at home

    Great choice, Brownlee. Staios was a hard working dependable dman on a team that had that identity. Maybe he wore down in the later years but considering what he was asked to do, thats understandable. I cheered for him like crazy, and its a shame he didnt get to carry the cup around the rink in 06. A heck of a guy who did a heck of a job.

  • Great White

    The Smith-Staios pairing epitomized Oilers hockey through all the blue collar years. We obviously can’t retire their jerseys, but there should be a wall of honour like the Eskimos have. Add Smyth, Moreau, and Laraque to it as well. And if not that, we should have an alternate jersey from those years to represent what hard working hockey looked like. Bring back the Copper+Blue.

        • Jay (not J)

          Really? In the top 72 even? I have troubles remembering Ethan Moreau for anything other than being injured for the first umpteen months of his captaincy and that horrible fight (even Jerome looked embarrassed)with Iginla after the Souray incident. I don’t blame him for that goofy jersey they had back then, but I can’t help but associate the two.If I can forget that he and Horcoff (no problem with him on the list, but I would expect that he’s coming up soon)were ever Captain, maybe I can forget those years all together…

          • Don’t dismiss non-hockey deeds/charity work/contributions to the community/ leadership inside and outside the dressing room or the negative flipside of same etc. so quickly.

            Ryan Smyth tossed three pucks to children before every game. That deed left a lasting impression with those kids but never once impacted the outcome of a game. Does that mean it doesn’t matter? Does that not add to Smyth’s legacy here?

            Factors into this list.

          • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

            Took my oldest son to see his first hockey game in 06 Oilers vs SanJose in SanJose. (Rolli’s First Oiler game) I bought my son a sweater before the game and I knew Smyth’s routine so I took him down near the Oilers entrance. Mr Smyth saw my son and skated right over to us and tossed him the puck. Ryan made me look like Super-Dad. I still tear up at the joy it brought to my sons face. The puck is still on his dresser. I always liked Ryan as a player and the class with which he represented our Country but on that day he became my brother.

          • Not my point. If you want players to play their hearts out a la Staios on a regular basis they have to have some form of pride in their city and their crest. Things like philanthropy are the starting point of having heart and soul players that do win games. Plus it never hurts if the guys winning the games aren’t viewed with disdain by the general public…

          • Great White

            “Writers use hedges in the vain hope that it will get them off the hook, or at least allow them to plead guilty to a lesser charge, should a critic ever try to prove them wrong.”

            Follow it up with a catchphrase like “Have a Snickers.”

            That’s the Spydyr handbook for not thinking.

          • Great White

            Why couldn’t it be both? 10 years blocking shots and defending team mates is hard to balk at in my view.

            In your world maybe 90 speed on NHL 16 is enough. Who knows…

  • Jay (not J)

    I dunno. This guy spent too much time working the Canadian Pacific Division stroll. You can’t play for Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary and still have a soul to pray for when you go to bed at the end of the day. Tough dude though and a work ethic that the kids of today could do well to emulate.

  • Gerald R. Ford

    Boy, when he got here, was he ever a pleasant surprise. Crazy, crazy work ethic, as honest a player as you’ll ever see, utilized every ounce of talent he had, knew every trick in the book, and played like the Oil Drop was his family crest.

    The Oilers were never very pretty in those days, but they sure had some beauties.

    • Leef O'Golin

      I’m with you. I remember being somewhat unimpressed when he got picked up, but that was a fantastic move. Guy definitely gave it everything he had. Greatest Macedonian-Canadian to ever lace ’em up?? Ha.

  • Will

    Wow, I never realized a 200lbd right shooting 28 point per year D man was such a rarity. I mean, at the moment fans are demanding Eberle be traded for basically the equivalent of Steve Staios in Travis Hamonic.

  • Shredder

    You guys remember when Staios blocked a shot with his face? It was his forehead thankfully, so no major injury. But I just remember that he tried to stand up, wobbled on the ice, the jumped down to block another shot. I don’t know anyone else who’d take a lump like that to earn their ice time…and this is when he was an older dude.


    I remember going to a game, must have been 2008 or 2009, and I grabbed one of those game-day booklets at the door. All the players had to answer a few questions, and one of them was “who would be your dream linemates” and most people were picking Ovechkin and Crosby, but Staios picked his actual linemates. I really liked that.

  • @Hallsy4

    I saw Staois and moreau at a charity thing when I was about 14. Both were nice enough to take the time to shake my hand and I was completely in awe of them. I’ll never forget staois hand, each and every fingernail was black and blue with bruises. Don’t know what the man did but looked like it had been crushed with a brick, and he certainly didn’t miss a game. He was tough as nails and I remember him being a lot smaller than I thought he would be in person. A lot smaller. It also stood out to me that they both had really good looking wives haha. Also remember Moreau’s fight when his shoulder came out as he was squared off with someone, Staois stepped in and fought the guy for him…. Miss those teams always battling for 8th at this time of year. Take steady Steve on my team any day.

  • Aitch

    Those eyes. How come no one mentions his eyes? And I’m not talking about for staring lovingly into. When Staios got mean, his stare alone was enough to scare most mortal humans.

  • camdog

    Staois was a beauty he wasn’t afraid to battle and the puck did not die on his stick.

    Looks by thumbs down, to many comments complimenting Staois as if many only remember his last 2-3 years in the league. It’s a shame that many only remember many players for their last few years in the league.