Gagner surprised by Gilbert trade

Oilers forward Sam Gagner and Flyers forward Brayden Schenn get tangled up at Rexall Place in...

Oilers forward Sam Gagner and Flyers forward Brayden Schenn get tangled up at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., Feb. 23, 2012. (DAN RIEDLHUBER/Reuters)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:00 AM ET

EDMONTON - If Sam Gagner knew Saturday would be the last time he saw Tom Gilbert in an Edmonton Oilers jersey, the centre would have made a point to wish his good friend best of luck in person.

But as is often the case, there is little notice when it comes to deals just prior to the trade deadline, and Gagner found out Gilbert had been traded following the morning skate Monday in Winnipeg.

He had to settle for a phone call to his former roommate.

Its tough to handle but its part of the business and you learn to cope with those sorts of things, losing friends to trades and whatnot, Gagner said prior to Wednesdays game against the Blues. Its tough to see him go, hes obviously one of my best friends and hes a great guy, but we picked up a great player in return. Its one of those things that happen in this league and you have to deal with it.

Gagner and Gilbert broke in with the Oilers together and shared a house along with Andrew Cogliano for a couple of years.

Gilbert had stayed behind in Edmonton while the team travelled to Winnipeg, told to nurse a sore back. Few had any idea the Oilers were going to move him and once the trade came down, Gilbert was quickly on a plane to Minnesota.

When I was told at first, I didnt believe it and I dont think I wanted to believe that he had gotten traded, Gagner said. Its one of those things that catches you by surprise considering there were different guys in trade rumours and his name never came up. Hes a great player and a great friend so its tough to see him go, but its part of the business.

BAD LUCK IN BUNCHES

If things do happen in threes, perhaps every head coach in the NHL is breathing a little easier this week.

On Sunday, San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan was the latest to be injured on the job.

McLellan was hit with a stick while behind the bench in Minnesota, knocked out momentarily, and is currently unable to step behind the Sharks bench with concussion symptoms.

Its weird, it hasnt been a great year for coaches, but its about time they get into the fray a little bit, joked Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff. Theyre always coming in here and saying you have to be more physical, well this is the price you pay.

McLellans incident follows Tom Renneys mishap, getting hit with the puck during a morning skate and Lindy Ruff of the Buffalo Sabres who broke three ribs in a collision during practice.

Renney has since returned the bench after suffering concussion symptoms, while Ruff didnt miss a game.

I kind of view it if youre around long enough, things are going to happen, you cant really do anything to stop it, Horcoff said. But its weird how it seems to come in clusters.

STAYING THE COURSE

One of the reasons the Oilers were able to deal Gilbert on Monday was the recent play of Jeff Petry.

In Petry the Oilers felt they had a player similar to Gilbert, who can provide offence from the back end, while being responsible in his own zone.

Now that Gilbert is gone, however, Petry doesnt plan on changing his game.

Were going to have try and pick up the slack offensively now that hes gone, but we dont want to force it too much, because you dont want to put your defensive zone in jeopardy, Petry said.

You dont want to get away with what youre comfortable with. Its important not to try and change your game too much.

I think in the last month and a half, my offensive game has picked up some, but to me, its more important to be consistent.

LOVING WINNIPEG

Lennart Petrell loved the atmosphere in Winnipeg Monday and is glad the NHL went back to the Manitoba Capital.

Its a lot of fun to play in front of that type of crowd, Petrell said. It really gets you going. It really doesnt matter if theyre cheering for you or against you, it gets you fired up.

Petrell had one of his best games of the year against the Jets, scoring a goal and adding an assist in a 5-3 win.

Hailing from Finland, Petrell was familiar with the Jets even before they returned to the league.

Yeah, everyone from Finland knows about the Jets because of what Teemu Selanne did there in his rookie season, Petrell said. Ive always known that there were really passionate about their hockey. Actually with what Teemu did there, it was sad to see them leave. Its good that they came back.

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SUNdvandiest


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