Friday, February 3, 2012

Gagner means 'win' in French

View from my seat, opening night 2009.

Here at the blog, it's turned into "sports week".  I wanted to do a post about the Oilers to add to the excitement, so I gave Sam Gagner a call and asked if he could score 4 goals against the Chicago Blackhawks on Groundhog Day.  Well, he ended up adding 4 assists to the mix, and in the end, it was nice of him to acknowledge my request by producing the first 8 point game by an Oiler's player in 23 years.

It is also worth noting that the Oilers won the game 8-4.  So yes, that's right, Gagner either scored or assisted on all 8 Oiler goals.  It is safe to say that that has never happened nor never will happen again.

The other thing I heard about this magical night is that the line of Gagner, Eberle, and Hall scored on 5 straight shifts in the 3rd period.  You can't even do that in a video game.  Believe me, I've tried many times.  They put special computer codes into the games to prohibit you from scoring every time so that you don't get bored with the game too fast.  Tonight, Gagner was better than Steve Yzerman from Nintendo's NHL 92.  That's the one you could do 'one-timers' in.

In 2009, my loving brother bought me a ticket for the Oiler's opening night game against the Flames.  After enjoying the first 2 periods I decided to go to the merch boutique and pick up a nice souvenir for my brother... a thank you gift.  Since most of the pre-season excitement centered around the Oilers signing a new goalie, I thought that it would be nice to get Barry a nice shirt with that goalie's name on the back.  Moments later, I purchased a Khabibulin shirt.

I put the shirt on (a game worn shirt is worth more!), got back to my seat and took in the rest of the game. The Oilers scored late to tie it up.  Then, with about a minute left, Khabibulin himself gifted the puck away and the Flames scored into the empty net to steal the game.  It was a bitter way to end such an exciting event, and it marked the beginning of yet another crappy season.

This is pregame, but the puck in the net makes sense

Lost in the that game was 20 year old center Sam Gagner.  He is supposed to develop into a reliable scorer, but since the coaches don't have the patience for such nonsense, they put him on the 4th line with the goons.  He fought Craig Conroy that day.  I remember it.  Craig Conroy was 18 years older(!) than Sam and a heck of a lot bigger.  Sam lost the fight, but it proved that he was willing to do whatever the coaches wanted him to, even if the coaches were idiots.

Fast forward to tonight.  Sam Gagner was on the top line with 2 shiny linemates and together they combined for 6 goals and 10 assists.

He's come a long way in 3 years.  He's not going to score 8 points again any time soon.  But, if he can combine that fighting attitude I saw back in '09 with the scoring touch, I sure hope the management and coaches realize that it's a good idea to have one of these Sam Gagner types on the team, especially when he's only 22 years old.

I mean, look at me.  I'm almost 31 years old and I feel like I'm just entering my prime.  All of the things I've learned in my 20s make me the 30 year old I am today, including the very fact that I had to get through them to get to here.  Heck, I still play touch football.  Sometime even quarterback!  And I'm 30 years old!

If Gagner still needs 3 or 4 more years to develop consistency, size, and confidence, then that is just fine and dandy for this little Oilers fan.

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