Knights may get Gagner

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

The London Knights may be gaining a player and an assistant coach, all from the same family.

While no final decisions have been made, it appears Sam Gagner, a centre the Knights drafted in the fourth round two years ago, has decided to forgo playing university hockey and will play for the Knights.

Father Dave Gagner, a Chatham native and former National Hockey League player, might wind up filling the assistant coach's job left open when Jacques Beaulieu left to become head coach of the Quebec league's Saint John, N.B., Sea Dogs.

Gagner played in close to 1,000 NHL games, scoring 318 goals and 719 points. He played with Knights general manager Mark Hunter for one year in the OHL with the Brantford Alexanders.

Sam Gagner was a highly rated 15-year-old in the Ontario Hockey League draft in 2005, but teams stayed away from him because he indicated he would go to school.

Many considered him a legitimate first-rounder. The Knights took a flyer and immediately went to work trying to convince him to come to the OHL.

Instead, he played last year with Sioux City, Iowa, of the United States Hockey League. He made a verbal commitment to play with the University of Wisconsin in 2007-08.

"We're working on it," Hunter said. "We're getting closer. We're hoping to have something done before our mini-camp, which is next weekend."

Hunter wouldn't go into details about whether Dave would come as an assistant coach, but did say the Knights are "dealing with this as a family situation."

"Right now we're really concentrating on Sam," Hunter said.

A story on the Wisconsin State Journal website said Gagner told a close friend he's "90 per cent sure" he's going to back out of a non-binding oral commitment to play for the Badgers and will play in the OHL next season.

"We want to make sure everything is right for the family," Hunter said.

Reports indicate Sam Gagner didn't enjoy playing in the USHL, even though, as a 16-year-old, he was the team's second-leading scorer with 11 goals and 35 assists in 56 games.

Getting the five-foot-10, 180-pound centre would help fill a skill gap created by the graduation of David Bolland, Rob Schremp and Dylan Hunter.

Mark Hunter is still working on getting Pat Kane, a American forward drafted in 2004, to report to London.


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