September 17 2008 07:16AM
When your salary increases from $900,000 to an average of $4 million a season, one would think you might be worried about the extra pressure, but not Tom Gilbert. Right now he’s more concerned with his upcoming battle against an unknown winner of the Guitar Hero competition that took place in Edmonton this summer.
According to Gilbert, the showdown will take place on the 29th of September and admittedly he isn’t as prepared as he liked to be.
“For me it’s just like hockey. I have to get back in the practicing mode, and find a couple songs that I’m good at. I played a couple time this summer, but I didn’t have my Xbox with me, so I wasn’t gaming at all. I’m going to have to do some practicing these next few weeks.”
Gilbert’s Guitar Hero skills became folklore in the Oiler locker room last season. All of his teammates begrudgingly admitted he was the best in the room. I’ve never played, so I won’t pretend to know how tough it is, but many accomplished guitarists have told me being a Hero enthusiast doesn’t mean that translates to the real guitar. Still video game geeks swear it’s the coolest new game going. I'll believe the guitar players.
Gilbert admits his prowess with the video guitar doesn’t translate to the real thing, but he’s trying to get better.
“I love the guitar and really appreciate those who can play it. I’m practicing, but I play Hero more than I practice [the real thing] so it’s tough to get better.”
That sounds about right for guys. Once we’ve mastered a sport or video game, especially one where we can dominate our buddies, we’ll play it all the time. But does it impress the ladies?
I know that chicks dig guys that can play a guitar, but do they dig guys who can dominate at Guitar Hero?
“I have no idea,” laughed Gilbert. The look on his face led me to believe it wasn’t something he talked to girls about. Video game expertise is not a great boost when picking up the ladies.
Note to all you gamers (ie, Wanye Gretz): bragging to a girl about how you reached level 27 on Metal Gear Solid 4 won't get you her digits.
But make no mistake, Gilbert is taking the competition seriously, and he seems more concerned than confident.
“I’m afraid that when I play this guy he’s going to be really good, and maybe embarrass me just a little bit. I will need some more mental preparation going in, and find that one good song that will give me a chance to beat him.”
I’ve been reporting for eight years now and that’s the first time an athlete every admitted he’s worried about getting embarrassed heading into a match. Finally some honesty, so I decide to dig a bit deeper. Will Gilbert use his celebrity status and try to intimidate his opponent?
“I’m not a big talker and from experience, people that talk the most trash are gamers and can back it up. If he chirps me back he might get in my head, so I’ll just show up and play,” he laughed.
Gilbert’s match will happen September 29th when he faces Edmonton’s best Guitar Hero player, but after that he will face a bigger battle, living up to his contract. Right now, he seems more confident in becoming a hero on the ice than he does in being one on the video screen.
The other hot video game topic is NHL ‘09, where Sam Gagner got a lower rating than both Nilsson and Cogliano—and Gagner has been hearing about it ever since. He even joked about it a little.
“At the end of last year, I was a 79, and now I’m a 76, so somehow I got worse over the summer,” he chuckled. “I’m going to have to re-invent myself in the game and make me better. My buddies back home have been bugging me saying if I had scored 50 points last year that maybe I would have been an 80 rating. Hopefully I can have a good year and get a better ranking in NHL ‘10.”
Ladislav Smid’s right knee still hasn’t fully healed. He had arthroscopic surgery to repair his meniscus at the start of the summer, but says it isn’t 100 per cent yet. He has tried a brace, but can’t seem to get comfortable with it.
He plans on playing in the exhibition games and is confident it should be ready for the start of the season. If he has any sort of setback, the battle for the #6 and #7 defence positions will get much more interesting. Even if he was healthy, Smid was going to be pushed by Jason Strudwick, but now Matty Roy and possibly Taylor Chorney and Theo Peckham could push Smid as well.