February 4, 2012
Centre hopes to fly high with Jets
By KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency
Aaron Gagnon found himself in an interesting position as he went into unrestricted free agency for the first time in his professional hockey career last summer.
The slippery centre had established himself as a front-line American Hockey League player and valuable depth guy during his time in the Dallas Stars system, so when July 1 came around, he figured to generate some interest on the open market.
After weighing a few offers, Gagnon signed a two-year deal with the Winnipeg Jets.
“All signs pointed to here,” said Gagnon, who has yet to score any points in four games with the Jets.
The wild card for Gagnon after signing is he was forced to miss training camp with a knee injury he sustained during the Calder Cup playoffs as a member of the Texas Stars.
After getting healthy, Gagnon needed about 10 games with the St. John’s IceCaps in the AHL to get comfortable and earned his first recall on Jan. 24, making his Jets debut against the New York Rangers.
Gagnon, 25, has been up-and-down twice in the past 10 days, but having some experience under his belt means he doesn’t have to spend much time worrying about how long this stint is going to last.
“I went through it a lot last year with Dallas, I had six or seven recalls there,” the native of Quesnel, B.C., said. “You’re checking the injury lists but you can’t get too tied up with that. If you’re looking every day and trying to worry about what’s going on, it’s just another thing that’s going to weigh on you.
“If you can go out there and just prove you can play and be part of the team, that’s what is going to help you in the long run, no matter when a spot opens up for you.”
Jets head coach Claude Noel praised the smarts and skill of Gagnon, but said he’d like to see him show a little more of his creativity and take longer shifts.
“When you first get here, you’re a little bit tentative but I think I’ve settled down a bit,” said Gagnon. “Hopefully I can go out there and not only not make mistakes but contribute. You want to come up and play in this league. You have to do something out there to show that you belong.”