SUN Hockey Pool

Fight all 'bout adding spark

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

EDMONTON -- Fact is, Craig Conroy didn't need to oblige when Sam Gagner asked him to fight when the Flames were in Edmonton for the Oilers season opener.

Not after all of Conroy's seasons in the NHL -- this is the 16th -- and not at age 38.

But he did, which would have come as a surprise to most.

Not Gagner.

"If I'm not expecting it, I'm not going to ask. When you look across and see I'm the one asking you, chances are you'll say, 'Yes,' " said Gagner, the 5-foot-11, 191-lb. centre.

"I knew that would be the case. I'm glad it happened, because it gave us a spark."

For the Oilers that night, sure. After Edmonton erased a 3-1 deficit, the Flames scored late for a 4-3 victory.

Not only did Gagner score in the third period of that meeting with the Flames, he tallied in the club's 5-4 win over the Dallas Stars the following outing.

It was a big boost for a highly touted player. Gagner jumped to the league the same year he was drafted in the first round, but he had been relegated to the fourth line against the Flames.

You could say the scrap stirred Gagner's juices.

"I'm sure it did," he said. "It's something I don't mind doing. As long as you don't get knocked out, it's fun. I wouldn't plan on seeing it much more often, but if it has to happen, it has to happen."

That's when it was pointed out Calgary's Jarome Iginla is struggling somewhat to get his game in high gear, and Gagner was asked whether he'd oblige Iginla in a scrap if the captain asked.

"Probably not," Gagner said with a laugh.

Oil drop fits Stone

Finally, the Oilers have a true Calgarian on their side in the Battle of Alberta, Ryan Stone.

Robert Nilsson was born in the Stampede City but grew up in Sweden, and Sam Gagner spent some time in Calgary while his dad played for the Flames, but Stone is actually a true-blue, native Calgarian.

He said it doesn't feel odd wearing the Oilers sweater.

"I grew up cheering for the Flames, but it's the NHL. I'm not a fan of Calgary anymore. When you're playing in it, it's pretty exciting," he said.

The Flames have four players from Edmonton and area: Jarome Iginla, Daymond Langkow, Jay Bouwmeester and Dion Phaneuf.

Stone, 24, was drafted by Pittsburgh in 2003.

However, he was traded to the Oilers last season as part of the Mathieu Garon deal.

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA

---

THREE STARS

AS CHOSEN BY RANDY SPORTAK

1

NIGEL DAWES, FLAMES

First goal of the season and a bunch of other chances in regulation time.

2

ETHAN MOREAU, OILERS

Scored, fought. Did everything you want from a captain.

3

RENE BOURQUE, FLAMES

Another solid outing for forward who works hard every shift.


Videos

Photos