February 3, 2012
Gagner The Great!Ties Gretzky, Coffey with 8 points
By TERRY JONES, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - It’s not every night when, after everybody has thrown all their hats on the ice, the guy scores again and somebody throws a shoe.
It’s not every night when a modern-day Edmonton Oiler ties a record previously shared by Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey, after breaking a mark which hasn’t been equalled since Jari Kurri did it back in 1988.
It’s not every night a player is named the first, second and third star.
Four goals. Four assists. Eight points.
Heck, the guy was even 54% in the faceoff circle.
Sam Gagner had his night of nights, his game of games to lead the Oilers to their first back-to-back wins since before the Grey Cup, a third win over Chicago and a two-game goal total of 17 against the Blackhawks at home in an 8-4 win.
Maybe that will finally take Sam Gagner’s name off the trade rumour list.
Gagner admits he was kind of thinking of something a little like that when he went out to take his skate in front of the fans chanting “Gagner! Gagner! Gagner!” for the three-star selection of Gagner, Gagner, Gagner.
“This year has been tough,” he said after the media mob had cleared and he started to peel his uniform off.
“There have been a lot of rumours. It’s hard to keep your mind focused. I’ve said it before. I want to stay here and be part of the future of this team,” said the Oilers first-round pick, sixth overall, of 2007.
“And I want to keep playing with him,” said Taylor Hall, who was moved to join Gagner and Jordan Eberle after the first period.
“I feel like a bit of a pigeon in the game with four points,” laughed Hall of what was a record points night for him. “I was really happy to be on the ice with him. It was a really cool moment.”
It was more than cool. It was a payoff.
“It just shows you how badly Sam wants to be part of what’s going on here,” said coach Tom Renney, making a point about the trade rumours.
“This is a guy who has fought for his teammates this year. He wants to provide leadership as well, and sometimes you have to suck it up and keep your mouth shut to lead. He has done that.”
People forget. The kid is only 22 years old.
Why would you invest 335 games developing Gagner, all of them in the NHL, when he could have returned to junior and could have played a year or two in the minors and just been starting his NHL career?
Gagner had one previous had trick, back in 2009 in an 8-1 in Colorado. But this was four goals, and had people looking up stuff in the fact book which hadn’t been looked up around here in three decades. Like the record for goals in a game. Five. Gretzky. Kurri. And Pat Hughes.
Like the last time somebody had six points in a game. That was Kurri in 1988. And of course, Gretzky twice registering eight points and Coffey doing it once.
“I never thought I’d be mentioned in the same breath as Gretzky and Coffey,” said Gagner.
Gagner never had four points in a game before.
“At one point out there, I thought ‘This is a joke.’” he laughed.
“I can’t really explain it. Everything I touched went in. It was a pretty surreal feeling. I’d never been a part of anything like this before. All year I’ve had a lot of chances but not much was going in,” said the guy who had five goals for the season until last night, after coming back from an injury and going 19 games without scoring.
“It’s just an incredible feeling to tie a record with those guys. They’re Hall of Famers.
“I didn’t feel I was playing that well in the first period. Ebs and Hallsy are great players. It’s fun to play with players like that. They allow me to play my game.”
The ultimate payoff, he said, was the crowd.
“What an incredible feeling. For the fans to chant my name like that. It hasn’t been a great last few years around here, but they’ve showed up for every game and been great fans for us.”
The fans, too, may have set a record.
Fans have thrown hats for hat tricks before. But after all of those were thrown last night, when Gagner scored his fourth, someone really did throw a shoe.
“Hallsy pointed it out to me,” said Gagner.
“I was hoping that would be the end of it because if he scored another one, we might have seen other paraphernalia that we didn’t want to see,” said the coach.
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