Two rivals collide for the better good

I now have hope for world peace. At the very least maybe a truce between the Israelis and Palestinians. Why?

I now have hope for world peace.

At the very least maybe a truce between the Israelis and Palestinians.


Because the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers have finally made a trade — with the Oilers sending veteran rearguard Steve Staios down the QE2 for depth defenceman Aaron Johnson and a conditional third round pick — the condition being Calgary will decide if it is for this year’s draft or next year.

If these two bitter rivals can peacefully consummate a deal, I expect cats and dogs to be living together in harmony. The Hatfields and McCoys to peacefully coexist over a shared outhouse.

Making the deal even more surprising is that it was a long-time Oilers soldier that will be trading in his copper and blue for red and yellow — not some prospect or neophyte.

Staios spent the better part of nine seasons the province’s capital and was involved in more than his share of battles between the two warring franchises.

What the Flames are getting is a player who certainly is on the back nine of his career but someone who’s effort will not be questioned. While his skill set is certainly limited, he is reliable in his own end and according to all reports is a quality leader and locker room guy.

He is the anti-Phaneuf.

He’s not flashy, does not require a lot of attention, but is the kind of guy you want in your fox hole.

He’ll probably see a lot of time on Calgary’s penalty kill and likely play from their third pairing. He should be an excellent mentor for Ian White who was acquired from Toronto in the Dion Phaneuf trade.

It was certainly a much better trade for Calgary than their earlier acquisition of goalie Vesa Toskala on Wednesday.

While he is a slight upgrade over Curtis McElhinney who went the other way to Anaheim in the trade, picking up the cost of the remaining $4 million is at least questionable, especially for a guy who is expected to see very limited time down the stretch as Miika Kiprusoff’s caddie.

It is even more of a head scratcher after the Flames took a pass on the cheaper and more reliable Alex Auld. Auld could have been had for a similar pittance before being put on waivers and picked up by the New York Rangers over the Olympic break.

I know I would feel more comfortable with Auld between the pipes if Kiprusoff goes down than betting the season on Toskala.

The Oilers’s other big deal can best be looked at as a push.

While they traded arguably their best player the last two seasons — Lubomir Visnovsky — to Anaheim, they receive a former blue-chipper in a serious need of a change of scenery — Ryan Whitney. They also save about $1.6 million in salary a year for the next three years on that deal alone.

Whitney was one of the top young defencemen in the league before foot surgery with Pittsburgh in the summer of 2008. He was then traded to Anaheim for Kunitz and Eric Tangradi, and has struggled ever since.

While Whitney will be a physical upgrade over Visnovsky they will miss the offence that he brought to the table, although the former fifth-overall pick is five years younger and does have a 59-point season under his belt.

Combine these deals with the Oilers trading of Denis Grebeshkov to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday for a second round pick in the upcoming draft and Oilers brass has taken a big step forward in the overhaul that is badly needed in Edmonton.

If Calgary’s third round pick is for this year, the Oilers are scheduled to have 10 picks in the upcoming draft including a strong likelihood of the top pick overall.

The Flames meanwhile did get marginally better but will still be in tough to make the playoffs — they one point behind the Detroit Red Wings heading into action Wednesday, who are finally getting healthy, for the final post-season berth in the West.

I have a funny feeling their new found open lines of communication may lead to a few early golf dates together.

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