How Far Is Up?

Word today that Sam Gagner has been named to Team Canada for the World Hockey Championships.

The kid has had a tremendous year, from the late summer international series to a tremendous training came to an NHL rookie season that continued to go in the right direction from start to finish.

It’s a veteran-laden group designed to win the whole damn thing, so it’s unlikely Gagner will have much of a role.

Then again, we’ve said that before.

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18 Responses to "How Far Is Up?"

  1. goldenchild says:

    Wow heck of an accomplishment for an 18 year old, even if he plays a couple of mins a game this should be quite a learning experiance. With it being in Canada at least he won;t be worn down by the travel, he has played a lot of hockey in the last 12 months.
    How much of this is Mact being the asst coach?

  2. doritogrande says:

    can anyone say Powerplay specialist?

    Great news for the kid, but you’d have to think he gets the softest of the soft opponents if and when he does get into a game. Hard to think someone younger than Toews would play in a World Championship, yet here we are…a year later.

    goldenchild: I think a good portion of it is MacT being on the staff, but I think another reason for the selection is that he can play C and Wing.

  3. Bruce says:

    Yet another graduate of the Program of Excellence makes the grade on the senior Team Canada.

    It was just 16 months ago that Sam surprised many by making the WJC team, where he was primarily a 13th forward and PP specialist. Reasonable to expect more of the same here, although underagers like Patrice Bergeron, Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews have gotten expanded roles in recent years. Not sure how Sam stacks up against those guys, but by one important marker, he does: he made the team.

    Whatever his role in the Worlds, the launch trajectory of Gagner’s career can only be seen as the best of news. This will be a great experience for him almost no matter what.
    ***

    Speaking of excellence, it’s Canada 5 Russia 0 after one period of the U-18 gold medal game. Believe it or not, Canada has been outshot 13-7, but is full value to have the lead, if not maybe quite that lead. The boys in red have been deadly on their opportunities, and are getting solid goaltending, defence, and penalty killing.

  4. Bruce says:

    Make that 7-0 after two. Yowser. I was relieved to see the good guys pot that sixth one; having (barely) lived through the Debacle on Manchester I consider a 5-0 lead the “worst lead in hockey”.

    7-0 OTOH seems safe. :)

    After watching Canada (whose best U-18 players are by and large tied up in CHL playoffs) hang on by their fingernails to 3-2 leads in the dying minutes against both Finland and Sweden, there was no reason to expect anything like this; in fact, playing the unbeaten Russians on their home ice I was expecting a pretty difficult game and a probable silver medal. Guess not.

  5. CrazyCoach says:

    Sam Gagner has been such a pleasant surprise for the Oilers after having so many unpleasant surprises the last couple seasons. I think what makes the difference for Sam Gagner is the fact that he has exceptional read and react skills which compliment his excellent technical skills.

    I imagine that papa Dave brought his son up in an environment where hockey was first and foremost, fun. That and the fact that papa Dave had a backyard rink for young Sam.

  6. Bruce says:

    Make it an 8-0 final. Wow. Russia won the preliminary round game 4-2 and reportedly dominated. Not so much today. :) Shades of the ’81 Canada Cup (a.k.a. the 8-1 Canada Cup) where the Soviets ambushed us in the final right on Canadian ice after a convincing round robin win by the good guys.

    Today’s team played a great game, 60 solid minutes. A little exuberant at times, but killed all 9 penalties and even scored the game-winner (and game-breaker) shorthanded, early in the first. They followed that up with all manner of goals, most of them pretty. Great shots, nifty passing plays, roof jobs, individual efforts, you name it. Luke Schenn’s little brother Braydon got one on a beautiful short-side deke. They backed up the offensive explosion with very solid play in their own zone, buttressed by excellent netminding by Jake Allen, who was absolutely outstanding in the four televised games. He wasn’t just solid, he was Carey Price solid.

    And I have to say it looked good on Pat Quinn. The big Irishman has never coached my favourite teams in the NHL, but he’s always been a proud Canadian and now he has an Under-18 gold medal to hang next to his Olympic gold. In the opposite order than you might expect. Maybe, like Cujo in the Spengler Cup, he’ll use success in Europe as a springboard to re-entry in the NHL.

    His team showed good discipline down the stretch as the Russians began to resort to cheap shots. Canada responded by playing keepaway on the powerplay, firing just one shot at the net which hit the (second) Russian goalie flush on the mask. Not a fun way to end an 8-0 shellacking, I’m sure.

    I don’t think this one was deliberate, but it reminded me of the time Cowboy Flett beaned a Russian goalie back in the day when exhibition games against Soviet club teams were high-intensity affairs. That one was very deliberate; every goalie in North America would have known Flett would waste one from the goal line, but the Russian had no idea and Flett beaned him full on the cage. It was harsh, but kinda funny too; the whole rink was laughing, although some of us waited ’til the poor bastard got up.

  7. Steve says:

    It’s a veteran-laden group designed to win the whole damn thing, so it’s unlikely Gagner will have much of a role.

    Except for the part about it being a veteran-laden group designed to win the whole damn thing.

  8. Alice says:

    Sam’s not the only one who made good use of the backyard rink – Jessica’s some nice hockey player too.

    Scroll down and you’ll see he was on the ice with her team last weekend.

    http://www.eteamz.com/bluewaterjuniorhawks/news/

  9. dubya says:

    I wonder is Sam’s ‘A’ move still works on those goalies…

  10. Steve says:

    Er, my above post should read as follows:

    It’s a veteran-laden group designed to win the whole damn thing, so it’s unlikely Gagner will have much of a role.

    Then again, we’ve said that before.

    Except for the part about it being a veteran-laden group designed to win the whole damn thing.

  11. PunjabiOil says:

    Garon is on the team too.

  12. Lowetide says:

    Nice to see the U18 team win. Wish I could have seen it.

  13. Bruce says:

    According to the Oilers’ website:

    Gagner has been named the so-called 14th forward who will play only in case of an injury, while Garon joins Carolina’s Cam Ward and Columbus’s Pascal LeClaire in a three-man fight for the crease … Andrew Cogliano was also in the mix but didn’t make the cut.

    Not perfect, but better than just Staios. I guess the official announcement comes down tomorrow.

    Oilers Tom Gilbert and Matt Greene have been named to Team USA, while Robert Nilsson (Sweden), Ladislav Smid (Czech Republic), Joni Pitkanen (Finland) and Denis Grebeshkov (Russia) are still vying for spots.

    The more the merrier. The World Championship experience is a great career advancement opportunity for young players. Ask Andy McDonald, Shawn Horcoff, Brad Boyes or Mathieu Lombardi about that, to name but a few recent examples who stepped it up while wearing the red maple leaf.

  14. dawgbone says:

    Scroll down and you’ll see he was on the ice with her team last weekend.

    http://www.eteamz.com/bluewaterjuniorhawks/news/

    I think this is the first ever hockey photo of Gagner where he is bigger than more than just one other player.

  15. doritogrande says:

    So I guess Giguere told them no, as well as the more documented thanks but no thanks from Brodeur.

    I see Ward being the starter. It’ll be an opportunity to play himself into contention for the Olympic squad.

  16. doritogrande says:

    Bruce:

    I can’t find that article you’re quoting from the Oilers homepage. Is it possible that they removed it?

  17. Bruce says:

    DG: Sorry, that was from the Edmonton Journal, there was a big Oilers banner at the top that fooled me. Try this:

    http://tinyurl.com/6gcpe7

    Official announcement was supposedly coming down today, but I can’t find anything yet. Hockey Canada’s website always seems a day behind. But here’s an overview from Dan Barnes:

    http://tinyurl.com/4h6q4n

    Makes it sound like both Garon and Gagner are just injury replacements. I hope they get a good hard look at camp before that decision is cast in stone.

    BTW, did anybody else hear the interview with Ken Hitchcock on the Team 1260 last week? Hitch, a fine coach and good person whom I admire and respect, had really nice things to say about Gagner and Cogliano (whose names were floated by Stauffer (?) as Team Canada candidates), as well as about Assistant Coach MacTavish and Lowe too. Partly talking through his hat no doubt, but he sprinkled his comments with little gems of wisdom to support his case, and they all rang true.

    When it came to MacT, Hitch talked of how motivated and ready to play his young team was down the stretch. He said CBJ are about a year behind Edmonton in the development stage, how they need the big year of bringing in new talent that Lowe’s Oilers just experienced, and while he made no bones that Columbus is never going to play the same style game as Edmonton he expressed admiration for what is happening here which sounded honest and heartfelt. He certainly said more than he needed to just to be polite.

    I didn’t hear the whole interview which was mostly about Team Canada, would have loved to hear Hitch’s take on GlenX.

  18. Master Lok says:

    Great link alice.

    And congrats to Garon as well as Gagner for making the squad.

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