He acknowledges the travel out west is harder than in the east, but he says a third of the league's teams travelled more miles than the Oilers last year. He also knows some players don't want to play in Canada.
"I appreciated the offers from the Canadian teams, but I wasn't looking to move to Canada."
The first wave of free-agent frenzy has subsided. Most of the big fish have been caught. With few exceptions, the unrestricted ones fled to southern markets, far from the Canadian teams, and outside of the Original Six franchises.
Daniel Briere turned down more money from the Canadiens. So did Ryan Smyth. Four Canadian teams wanted Kozlov, and had more on the table than the Thrashers, but in the end, they weren't even considered. Scott Gomez's agent happily took bids from the Oilers and others, but reports out of New York indicate the American star had no interest in playing in Canada. Paul Kariya apparently gave little consideration to playing anywhere that didn't guarantee his anonymity.
And on and on it goes. In fact, the only significant signings by Canadian teams this off-season look a little like this: Jason Blake to Toronto, Roman Hamrlik and Bryan Smolinski to Montreal, Owen Nolan and Cory Sarich to Calgary, and Mathieu Garon to Edmonton.
Contrast that with the recent home-front losses, due to trades or free agency, from west to east: Brent Sopel, Jan Bulis, Josh Green, Smolinski, Tony Amonte, Brad Stuart, Hamrlik, Daniel Tjarnqvist, Petr Sykora, Ryan Smyth, Jason Smith, Joffrey Lupul, Jan Hejda, Mike Peca, Jeff O'Neill, Yanic Perreault, Mike Comrie, Tom Preissing, Janne Niinimaa, Sheldon Souray, Mike Johnson, David Aebischer, Craig Rivet, Radek Bonk, Sergei Samsonov.
This isn't a big market, small market war being fought: Every Canadian team has said they plan to spend close to the $50.3-million cap. Even the Oilers are working with an increased budget.
Can it really be true? A league where more than 50 per cent of its players are Canadian, and so few are anxious for a homecoming? Or is this just a one-year blip?