Bolt from the blue

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

Marc-Andre Bergeron has always been able to fire the puck.

Coming up through minor hockey, the Edmonton Oilers defenceman usually had the hardest shot on his team.

"I remember when I was really young, I was the only guy on my team that could shoot from the blue line all the way to the net," Bergeron said.

"The goalies were scared of it."

Now that he's in the NHL, goaltenders are still leery of his shot.

Yesterday Bergeron stole the show at the Oilers Superskills competition. He had the hardest shot - registering 103.5 miles per hour on the radar gun - and won the fastest skater competition, doing a lap in 14.392 seconds.

"They're both pretty nice," Bergeron said.

"They're good qualities to have and I'm glad I have them. They're useful to me, for sure."

A year ago, Bergeron finished second to Chris Pronger in the hardest shot competition.

With the former Oiler defenceman making his first trip to Edmonton tomorrow, that tidbit of information was not brought up in front of the large crowd that gathered to see the event.

However, Bergeron's blast eclipsed Pronger's mark of 102.8 miles per hour from last season.

"I don't know what it is," Bergeron said.

"I can hit a golf ball really far, I can hit a baseball really far. I have a good arm when I play baseball. I guess I just have good weight transfer. It's probably from there that everything comes from."

It's that shot that makes Bergeron so valuable to the Oilers on the power play.

However, unlike some other big boomers, Bergeron does not use an excessively long stick, and at five-foot-10, 197-pounds, isn't necessarily putting a ton of weight behind his shot.

"I've always had a good shot, so it's always been fun for me to shoot the puck," he said.

"When you have a good shot, you don't have a problem letting it go. I've always felt comfortable shooting and from there it just builds your confidence, so you just get better and better."

Growing up, Bergeron was a competitive baseball player with a cannon for an arm. He could also crush the ball at the plate.

Now on the golf course, his big drives off the tee have made him a two-handicap golfer.

"I'm just crushing the golf ball and I don't really know why," he said.

"It's not like I've been playing golf for 25 years."

Speed is another of his strengths. Bergeron put up the time to beat in the one-lap event.

Joffrey Lupul responded well, but nearly wiped out coming out of the final corner.

"I didn't want to be the first person to get stretchered off in the skills competition," Lupul said.

"I was coming so fast I felt I was starting to fall when I started to turn. They could cut that out of the skills competition and it would be all right with me."

It's the second consecutive time Bergeron has claimed the fastest skater event.

"I'm a good skater but Jason Chimera, when he was (here was) at 13.2. That's super fast," Bergeron said.

"I'm a good skater, but I'm not that fast.

"I'm smaller too, so I expected a guy like Lups to beat me.

"But being able to turn in the corner makes a big difference. He almost fell behind the net."


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