August 5, 2008
Oiler pair aware of jinxWork to avoid sophomore slump
By DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media
A year ago, there were doubts as to whether they would make the team.
Both had talent.
Both were high-end draft picks. And both were considered the future of the franchise.
But after impressive rookie campaigns, Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner are now considered integral parts of the Edmonton Oilers lineup heading into this season.
Expectations will be high as they attempt to avoid the dreaded sophomore jinx.
"A lot of the sophomore jinx has to do with guys forgetting how hard they worked to get here going into their rookie year," said Gagner.
"All of us that are going to be sophomore's this year know how hard we have to work. We have worked hard this summer trying to make sure it doesn't happen.
"That's all you can really do. Once the season starts, you have to stay focused and mentally prepared, not letting things get to you and try and handle the things you can control. Hopefully that helps you get through it."
Gagner, who turns 19 next week, finished fifth in NHL rookie scoring last season with 13 goals and 36 assists in 79 games. Cogliano, 21, finished, with 18 goals and 27 assists in 82 games.
Yesterday the pair were guests at the Edmonton Oilers hockey school being held at Servus Credit Union Place in St. Albert.
"I haven't thought about it too much as far as the expectations go or what I did last year," Cogliano said.
"I'm just going to think of coming into training camp and trying to play well.
"I think the sophomore jinx is something you make up in your mind and the more you think about it, the more negative thoughts you're going to get and the more bad things are going to happen."
Struggling in your second year has more to do with opponents knowing who you are and being better prepared against you than it does with any curse.
The key to avoiding it is to be prepared for the extra attention and added scrutiny.
A year ago, anything the pair did was a bonus. This season will be considered disappointing if their numbers don't improve.
"It will be tougher," Cogliano said. "Especially if our line sticks together. We had a lot of success last year and I think other teams will focus on our line more than they did last year. But that's all part of it and we just have to be that much better heading into this season."
Cogliano was the Oilers first pick - 25th overall - in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He was able to make the jump straight out of U.S. college hockey to the NHL.
Gagner, the Oilers first pick - sixth overall - in the 2007 draft, made the jump straight out of junior. He'll be attending an exhibition tournament in Europe later this month with some former London Knights before returning for training camp.
"We're going to be an offensive-minded team and we're looking forward to next season," Gagner said. "
I'm excited about the moves we made this off-season. The guys that aren't here anymore were great team guys and you need guys like that. It's tough to see those guys go, but with the guys we picked up I think we're a better team for it."