Hockey dad has far to travel

RYAN PYETTE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:20 AM ET

LONDON -- Last season, Dave Gagner watched every hockey game his son Sam played.

It was pretty simple - Dave was in his first campaign as a London Knights assistant coach while Sam was a rookie scoring star with the team. No one expected the arrangement to change in Year Two.

But then the Edmonton Oilers came calling and now, 18-year-old Sam is the youngest player in the NHL.

So while the father prepares for a bus ride to Peterborough today and a tilt with Windsor the following evening, the son will get ready for a Friday night home game against the Nashville Predators. There's definitely a different dynamic at play.

"We try to watch him when we can (on TV) and we talk to him a lot on the phone," Dave Gagner said. "We do miss him, but we have two more kids at home (in London). When he comes home in the summer, maybe he can get to be an 18-year-old. But there, he's expected to be a man."

Sam arrived on the London hockey scene with his father. Now that he has moved on, can Dave be far behind?

"Sam and I have separate goals," he said. "I came here to try to become a better coach. My plans are indefinite."

Like any hockey dad, he likes to watch his son play. He went to the world junior tournament last year in Sweden and flew to Winnipeg this summer to catch a leg of the Canada-Russia Super Series, an eight-game set from which Sam Gagner emerged as the talk of the tournament.

"It'll be hard to get out there (to Edmonton during the OHL season) but he does play in other cities," Dave said. "I just haven't looked at where we can go yet."


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