Summer of '89

Lowetide
June 15 2011 09:04PM

During the 2010 NHL entry draft, Oiler fans got together to hear the big announcement: Taylor or Tyler. Over the years, Edmonton has drafted some of the truly exceptional talents in the game's history. Their draft day scouting reports still ring true all these years later.

  • Barry Fraser talking about Kevin Lowe: "I had him anywhere from 10 to 13 overall. He was the best player available (at 21) a steady defenseman who is good offensively with a penchant for being tough."
  • Glen Sather about Mark Messier"He has unlimited potential."
  • Fraser about Glenn Anderson"He's very quick, probably the best player (at the Canadian Olympic camp) behind Randy Gregg."
  • According to this Terry Jones article from March 14, 1979, Edmonton placed Jari Kurri on their negotiation list. This would have been about 15 months before the Oilers drafted him.
  • Unnamed NHL scout on Grant Fuhr"He's the best goalie to come out of the draft since John Davidson."
  • Jeff O'Neill comparing himself to Jason Bonsignore"Basically the difference between Jason and I is that he's chicken and I'm not. No, seriously, Jason is more of a finesse player and I'm more aggressive."

The question I always ask about scouting reports on draft day is do they reflect the player's ability? The answer is (and always has been) a resounding yes. Scouting reports are exceptional in that they describe a prospect's strengths and weaknesses and do a good job giving the reader and idea about where they might slot on the depth chart. 

What don't they tell us? 

Scouting reports don't factor in attitude, drive, injuries that will happen down the line, contract squabbles, drug and alcohol problems and (God love them) women. When we read a scouting report from a service (Redline doesn't like to be mentioned with the others but I'd throw ISS in there and Bob McKenzie is the Gold Standard) it does a very good job of creating a line in the sand. As fans, it's our job to document the prospect's progress after he's drafted. Let me use Sam Gagner as an example.

Redline: Plays with drive, determination and hustle. Very smart and heady player who competes hard and hates losing. While not an elite skater, he gets there just fine. Not the biggest dog in the fight, but thrives in traffic and works well in tight space. Slick hands with a quick release snap-shot that keeps defencemen and goaltenders guessing. Can hold the puck too long at times and needs to work on seeing his mates better. Has the ability to play the pivot or wing.

I think that's a fair scouting report, pointing out hiis obvious puck skills and his negatives (size, speed). With that as the backdrop, the clock starts ticking on Gagner's career beginning training camp 2007 fall. He comes in and clocks the competition, makes the team and posts one of the finest offensive seasons in Oiler history. LOTS of positive arrows for Gagner after year one.

Since that day, Gagner's boxcars have run in place (actually they've gone down slightly) and there are rumblings among the fanbase in regard to the young man's future. I think that's reasonable based on the clock we all have in our brains that begins ticking the moment a young prospect becomes a regular. We all have our internal estimates about how much elapsed time it takes for a prospect to turn into a useful player, and four years is a long time for a prospect to post the same numbers year after year.

WHAT ARE THE POSITIVES?

  1. He's survived. Although injuries have been a factor in his career, Gagner has played in 89% of the Oilers games since 2007 fall. He started under the Mandelbaum regimesurvived that and the Bermuda triangle that has been the injury bug since Pat Quinn brought the Plague of 1348 with him in a big travelling chest when flying in from Muddy York.
  2. He's become the best 5x5 offensive C on the roster. Gagner's 5x5/60 number was solid and there's evidence that he had emerged as a quality center before Christmas. When injuries fell, and he was assigned to the Swedish rookies (who worked well together but not with Gagner) the ship began to talk on water.
  3. There's a lot of battle in this kid. Despite facing an uphill battle in the season's second half, Gagner showed a lot of try until Ryan (Ron Popiel) Jones did a slicer-dicer on him and ended 89's season. There was some of that in his original scouting report and it showed this season.

DOWNSIDE

  1. The faceoff circle. Gagner's poor numbers in the dot are magnified by an overall team weakness in this area. Gagner and Cogliano have not progressed and although there are varying opinions about the importance of the discipline it's safe to say this is not satisfactory.
  2. The powerplay. Gagner had a poor season with the man advantage, and the Oilers have some tremendous options available. Unless he shows massive improvement, I think he's going to lose his minutes to Linus Omark and others. 
  3. Chemistry. Gagner had chem with Penner and Hemsky, but one of them is gone and the other one could be on the way. He had very little chemistry with MP and Omark, so I'm not certain where he fits in the top 6. Should the club decide to run Horcoff next season with Hall and Eberle, Gagner might be spending more time with men like Ryan Jones and Clem Kadiddlehopper. 

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Sam Gagner is a slight disappointment for us as Oiler fans based on his draft number and the clock ticking in our brains. This also coincides perfectly with the exact moment when losing organizations often trade good young players. It's a perfect storm and an excellent test for Steve Tambellini. If he trades Gagner this summer, all those at-bats will have been done for another NHL team's benefit. Unless the return is an established NHL player who can help this young team for many years, it would be an unwise move.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on TSN 1260.
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#1 They're $hittie
June 15 2011, 10:34PM
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Rexall and Pengrowth need to Raise Thomas' Jersey

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#2 pelhem grenville
June 16 2011, 04:41AM
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Vancouver

as i said ...

win or lose The City Burns to The Ground...

i hate it when i'm right...losers

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#3 Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"
June 15 2011, 09:17PM
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I was shocked to hear Grapes say that Lou deserved the MVP if Van won! I really can not believe he said that.

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#4 Archaeologuy
June 15 2011, 09:22PM
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I'm fine with Gagner. He's still young enough that people he was drafted along side are in contention for the Calder trophy. The Calder. He needs to get better in a few areas, but he can still play.

Whether its at C or on the Wing, Gagner will be an Oiler for a while longer, and thats a good thing.

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#5 Puritania
June 15 2011, 11:26PM
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Tikktalk wrote:

Please don't mention Pengrowth in the same sentence as Rexall. Even though there's been one cup more there than Roger's has celebrated doesn't mean they deserve anything more than the distain that's been shown toward the Canucks. Let's not lose focus here, there is no situation where it is acceptable to align with the Flames - even when it's for the worthy cause of hating on the Canucks... Go Oil!!

I will gladly embrace a Flames fan if it relates to defiance or the defeat of the Canucks and their loathsome fans.

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#6 Shaun Doe
June 15 2011, 09:20PM
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Well... Vancouver is on fire. I love my province, hate its people

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#7 @Oilanderp
June 15 2011, 09:24PM
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I would like to know the whereabouts of this ship that "talks on water". I think we should definitely be able to trade a talking ship for a top 5 pick!

Have patience with Gagner, and after that some more patience.

And acquire more Finns!

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#8 Shapeman
June 15 2011, 09:35PM
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I still think Gagner will be better in the FO circle based on how he was doing before he got injured. Lets hope he takes a step forward next year.

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#9 Spartacus
June 15 2011, 09:44PM
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The Canucks losing in Game 7 makes the Oilers finishing in 30th much more bearable.

In fact, I think tonight's result will get me through next year's 30th place finish, too.

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#10 jake
June 15 2011, 09:52PM
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Like Gagner overall. Concern is his spending alot of time on his backside after losing battles for the puck and getting knocked down.

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#11 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
June 15 2011, 10:06PM
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What the hell was that,

Clem Kadiddlehopper? Wow.

Absolute Classic

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#12 prgmoose
June 15 2011, 10:26PM
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i live in bc so im surrounded by canuck fans. watching vancouver lose the cup is almost as good as watching the oilers win one. can't get this tim thomas grin off my face. so satisfying. those rioting idiots don't deserve a cup.

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#13 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
June 15 2011, 10:41PM
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"Sam Gagner is a slight disappointment for us as Oiler fans based on his draft number"

Don't agree with that the slightest, a quick glance up and down the names that have been drafted 5/6/7 over the last 10 or so years (or ever reallY) so that thus far he's one of the better picks for his slot.

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#14 CM
June 16 2011, 06:15AM
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NHL should take away a couple picks from the nucks over the way their fans reacted. It would be the best way to send a message to so called "hockey fans"

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#15 @Oilanderp
June 16 2011, 09:03AM
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CM wrote:

NHL should take away a couple picks from the nucks over the way their fans reacted. It would be the best way to send a message to so called "hockey fans"

Yeah send them to their rooms! That'll show those anarchists!

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#16 Tapdog
June 16 2011, 11:22AM
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John Chambers wrote:

My guess is that we see Gagner move to the wing once the team builds some depth at Centre. Could be as early as this season depending on who we draft and sign, and whether Lander or VV stick.

Gagner wouldn't suffer this kind of scrutiny if he was a 50-pt player on a line with Ryan Jones and Shawn Horcoff.

50 pts from the wing on the third line would be great if it came with tough physical play.

If Gagner is playing the third line, I fear we are in trouble. Honestly if that is the case the Oilers should be looking at moving him.

With the Oilers possibly moving Hemsky, I feel that moving Gagner to the vacated RW position would be best option.

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#17 Quicksilver ballet
June 15 2011, 09:09PM
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Feel a little bad for Taylor Hall this evening. Having to watch his friend lift the cup almost a decade before he'll ever get a chance to hoist it. (according to Kevin Lowes projections)

Hopefully the Oilers can expedite this process before he gets bored and looks elsewhere for his opportunity.

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#18 D
June 15 2011, 09:12PM
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Gagner needs to make his move this season.

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#19 They're $hittie
June 15 2011, 09:28PM
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Place your bets on how many comments are posted on this artcle. A gagner discussion with Vancouver losing in the cup final.

My bet is 247 comments.

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#20 Pajamah
June 15 2011, 09:29PM
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Let me be the 25,000,000 person in Canada to say to Vancouver, and all its fans...

BAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

You losers!!!!

-Fin

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#21 Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"
June 15 2011, 09:37PM
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Almost all my predictions on who would win were wrong But When I said Boston in 7 I knew that if they won I really would not care about all the others. I only wish It was Tampa with the cup.

ROLI ROLI ROLI!!!

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#22 CanaDave
June 15 2011, 09:39PM
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If Luongo had won the game 1-0 for his 3rd Shutout of the finals it would've been awfully hard not to name him Conn Smythe winner in his own arena. Thank the Lord that we'll never have to find out.

I completely agree about Gagner, he's done great under the circumstances he's been in to this point in his career and considering that Logan Couture is up for rookie of the year and is older than Gagner who's 4 seasons in I think it's awfully early to even consider doing anything with him that involves removing him from the Oilers.

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#23 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
June 15 2011, 09:40PM
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This is awesome. Lose the cup start a riot. LOL

Morons

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#24 prgmoose
June 15 2011, 09:43PM
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had a good chuckle at jeff o'neil comment about bonsignore. how true. let's hire him as a scout. he could become the next MBS.

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#25 Joel
June 15 2011, 10:12PM
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Shocking what is happening in downtown Vancouver

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#27 They're $hittie
June 15 2011, 10:32PM
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Joel wrote:

Shocking what is happening in downtown Vancouver

Really, is it that shocking? I saw this coming. What a way to disgrace what the city had accomplished just over a year ago.

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#28 T.C.
June 15 2011, 10:34PM
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everybody dissing vancouver remember 2006 and all the boneheads rioting in edmonton made us look pretty bad just sayin.

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#29 PaperDesigner
June 15 2011, 11:01PM
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Gagner's numbers are due for a bump. The offensive talent around him seems to be maturing, and I think the low powerplay numbers are an aberration. I think you'll see a slight bump in the even strength production and a return to form on the powerplay that will add up to a 60-65 point season for the guy.

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#30 Tikktalk
June 15 2011, 11:10PM
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They're $hittie wrote:

Rexall and Pengrowth need to Raise Thomas' Jersey

Please don't mention Pengrowth in the same sentence as Rexall. Even though there's been one cup more there than Roger's has celebrated doesn't mean they deserve anything more than the distain that's been shown toward the Canucks. Let's not lose focus here, there is no situation where it is acceptable to align with the Flames - even when it's for the worthy cause of hating on the Canucks... Go Oil!!

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#31 They're $hittie
June 15 2011, 11:17PM
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Tikktalk wrote:

Please don't mention Pengrowth in the same sentence as Rexall. Even though there's been one cup more there than Roger's has celebrated doesn't mean they deserve anything more than the distain that's been shown toward the Canucks. Let's not lose focus here, there is no situation where it is acceptable to align with the Flames - even when it's for the worthy cause of hating on the Canucks... Go Oil!!

Dont disagree with you. But do you not think flames fans are cheering just as hard as we are tonight.

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#32 The Beaker
June 15 2011, 11:22PM
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T.C. wrote:

everybody dissing vancouver remember 2006 and all the boneheads rioting in edmonton made us look pretty bad just sayin.

How many people got stabbed in the neck? Boneheads? Yes. Complete and utter morons? Sure.

As bas as Vancouver? Dont think so.

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#33 The Farmer
June 15 2011, 11:23PM
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Very dissapointing tonight to see what's going on in Vancouver. I was cheering for Boston, so that made me happy, but this is embarrassing on all Canadians. I know it would happen here in Edmonton too. It just goes to show you how fragile civility really is. We look down on all the people in the middle east for doing the very same thing, yet here we are watching it happen over something as unimportant as a freakin hockey game. GROW UP PEOPLE !

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#34 Tikktalk
June 15 2011, 11:26PM
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If you trade Gagner for anything beyond top 5 you are going backwards - you get the same player or worse without the growing pains that Sam has already experienced. Same thing with Hemsky, trading him for the 8th this year straight up is a fools bet. It may be exciting at the draft, but 164 games from now when we're still waiting for prospect x to develop it isn't going to look so great.

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#35 Puritania
June 15 2011, 11:28PM
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The Farmer wrote:

Very dissapointing tonight to see what's going on in Vancouver. I was cheering for Boston, so that made me happy, but this is embarrassing on all Canadians. I know it would happen here in Edmonton too. It just goes to show you how fragile civility really is. We look down on all the people in the middle east for doing the very same thing, yet here we are watching it happen over something as unimportant as a freakin hockey game. GROW UP PEOPLE !

It had the opportunity to happen here in Edmonton and it did not happen, we had a little bit of stupidity but nothing near what is going on right now.

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#36 Tikktalk
June 15 2011, 11:29PM
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They're $hittie wrote:

Dont disagree with you. But do you not think flames fans are cheering just as hard as we are tonight.

No arguments here

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#37 common sense
June 16 2011, 12:33AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Feel a little bad for Taylor Hall this evening. Having to watch his friend lift the cup almost a decade before he'll ever get a chance to hoist it. (according to Kevin Lowes projections)

Hopefully the Oilers can expedite this process before he gets bored and looks elsewhere for his opportunity.

All you kidding me. Haven't you heard that the journey is more important than the destination. Being a bit player on a team that wins the cup is nice but the greater glory and satisfaction will be to have played a major role on a team that can rise from the bottom to the top. Therein lies the beauty of the Oiler glory teams....how great a feeling it must've been for players like Gretzky, Messier, Lowe, Anderson to have played integral parts of a championship team that had been near the bottom as a new expansion NHL franchise.

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#38 andrewmk20
June 16 2011, 12:54AM
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@Shaun Doe

agreed. i have family out there and it's a beautiful/gorgeous province and I love the sea air... the people absolutely SUCK!!! That's why the Canucks are not Canada's team and never will be.

By the what was the worst that happened in Edmonton. A shopping cart on fire and some fireworks??

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#39 common sense
June 16 2011, 01:24AM
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I was on Jasper Ave right after the Oilers won their first cup. Very festive and a lot of nice joyous girls showing off some of their nice assets. How different a scene would it have been in Vancouver tonight had the Nucks won. True character shows up when the going gets tough....

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#40 knobby
June 16 2011, 01:36AM
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Gagner has two shortcomings, fair enough but they are critical shortcomings. He is slow. He gets caught from behind too often by the backcheck and the resulting turnover ends up going the wrong way.

He has a size disadvantage that will become worse as the upcoming opposition drafts are getting bigger and faster. He ssems to me to lose too many puck battles. He takes way too long to make a play with the puck and often gets knocked on his ass before he can make a play.

He doesn't have the most talented linemates to work with. That can't help.

The die has been cast for Gagner. He'll never get any bigger and definitely shows no capability of getting faster.

Those are shortcomings that are almost impossible to overcome. The lack of improvement even though he is on a weaker team doesn't seem to bode well for the future.

Hindsight seems to suggest he should have gone to the AHL to learn to play at the pro level. The Oilers lack of patience with some of their higher picks may be a fatal organizational flaw.

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#41 Salsa Shark
June 16 2011, 04:17AM
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Was never downtown for edmontons game 7 loss, but tonight's atmosphere in Vancouver was awful. I saw people getting beat up for trying to prevent vandalism, and plenty of others cheering the lighting up of a car on the side of the road and in another in a parkade. Got out of downtown shortly after that. I don't think that most of the culprits were true hockey fans, as I rarely saw jerseys on these people but it was tough as a citizen of Vancouver though I cheered for Boston in this series to see this happen tonight....shameful for those who took part.

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#42 Shane
June 16 2011, 06:37AM
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Oilers sign pair of Finns. http://www.edmontonjournal.com/mobile/iphone/story.html?id=4955270

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#43 Yourmomthinksimhot
June 16 2011, 07:18AM
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Gagner was my favorite player for the first couple years he was on the team. The kid is a really good not great player, you can see he still has the potential. Although his stats seem to have plateaued so far it seems like there is more to come from his game.

I believe playing him and Cogliano at center has proven to be a failure. Both players could and I think would benefit from playing on the wing.

If we trade Hemsky and thats a big if, it should be for a Centerman. A second line of Paajarvi, (Insert Centermans name here) and Gagner would be an effective second line.

I hope Gagner is a big part of our furture moving forward.

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#44 DBO
June 16 2011, 07:33AM
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I was on Whyte ave when we lost game 7. One shopping cart with paper in it was lit on fire. That was it. Nothing else. There was no riot. The only people hurt were a few people who got smoked by the police. The cops made an example out of a few people right away and nothing happened.

Vancouver: 2 trips to finals, 2 losses, 2 riots. I just got an email from a work colleague in Vancouver who told me she now understands why I dislike Vancouver fans. I told her about how bad they are at Oil games, that they were the worst visiting fans. She couldn't believe it then, now she knows. I feel bad for the true fans. I dislike the Flames more then any team, but that damn Red Mile was fun and no real issues. Edmonton and Calgary did it right, Vancouver should be ashamed. They even threw bottles at the huge TV screens the Canucks set up outside so people could watch the game. Really.

Stay classy Vancouver.

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#45 They're $hittie
June 16 2011, 07:50AM
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CM wrote:

NHL should take away a couple picks from the nucks over the way their fans reacted. It would be the best way to send a message to so called "hockey fans"

Even though this would be hilarious it would probably lead to another riot. The cancucks (I hate them) franchise had nothing to do with this.

Imagine the Goodwill the team would game if they helped pay for the damages.

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#46 justDOit
June 16 2011, 08:34AM
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Gags still has some potential, but his time is running out. He was thrown into the NHL too early, so he deserves another year to show us what he has (or doesn't have).

When I look around the league at guys who aren't the biggest players, but still play with impact, they all have strength and/or speed in common.

Brierre has worked out with a power lifter for years, and is supposedly one of the stronger guys in the NHL, pound for pound. Gionta is in that group as well.

Guys like St. Louis, Giroux and Marchand have speed to burn.

Gags has neither, and unless he has started a better strength/conditioning program already, I don't think he'll be around this league very long.

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#47 freeze
June 16 2011, 08:45AM
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I'd love to know how Gagner's tendon surgery rehab is going. I doubt he will improve in the faceoff circle this year based on that injury.

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#48 Chris.
June 16 2011, 10:00AM
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@Lowetide

I don't think Gagner skates well enough to become a true impact player from the center position... and he can't seem to make plays in stride. Quality top six forwards should be able to put moves on with their feet still moving. Gagner, after four full seasons, always seems to switch it to glide before he can dangle the puck (just watch tape of him in the shootout) On the rush, game after game, I watch Gagner stop moving his feet when he looks to distribute the puck... then he's caught totally flat footed when the puck goes the other way. Makes me crazy. At first I thought this was a confidence thing, but after nearly 300 NHL games, I'm starting to wonder if it's a skill set thing.

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#49 John Chambers
June 16 2011, 10:27AM
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My guess is that we see Gagner move to the wing once the team builds some depth at Centre. Could be as early as this season depending on who we draft and sign, and whether Lander or VV stick.

Gagner wouldn't suffer this kind of scrutiny if he was a 50-pt player on a line with Ryan Jones and Shawn Horcoff.

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#50 The Other John
June 16 2011, 10:40AM
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In Stauffer's interview of David Conte yesterday, Stauffer was selling his "picking a D in top 3 makes no logical sense" theory.

Conte said: Defense is a hard position to play in NHL now but most top overall picks are usually picked by bad teams and D men have no mentors to show them how to play the game. Scott Stevens had Rod Lagway to mentor him, Neidemeyer had Stevens to mentor him..... all perspective.

Conte also said they err on side of bring a kid up "better a day late, rather than a day early"

Gagner fits under both comments: no one to really mentor him with Horcoff missing 50+ games over the last 4 years and, more pronounced: Gagner was brought to the NHL far too early and has had to develop his skills at the highest level. 2 seasons in the AHL and we might be faced with a far superior total package by Gagner

Forgot...... its EIG's fault

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