Derek Van Deist wisely penned a column this morning in the Sun basically inferring how screwed the Oilers would be if both Cogliano and Gagner had tandem sophomore slumps in the coming season. We’ll forget for the moment the fact that mentioning slumps is one of the things you DON’T DO with a sophomore player—like telling a stage actor to break a leg prior to a performance.
We thought the quotes from the two players on avoiding the sophomore slump are quite telling:
“A lot of the sophomore jinx has to do with guys forgetting how hard they worked to get here going into their rookie year. All of us that are going to be sophomores this year know how hard we have to work. We have worked hard this summer trying to make sure it doesn’t happen.”
There have been many stories on Gagner’s commitment to training both on and off the ice, and we like his approach to having a productive second year in the league. “The only thing I can do to avoid the slump is to bang out squat thrusts until my eyes bleed. Tally-ho!”
What a good kid. We’d wager dollars for doughnuts that Gagner won’t have much of a trail off in his second year if any at all. His work ethic and seemingly “hard-work-no-ego” approach to the game simply shant allow it.
“I think the sophomore jinx is something you make up in your mind and the more you think about it, the more negative thoughts you’re going to get and the more bad things are going to happen.”
Ah, young Andrew. A bit more zen about it all, aren’t we? A bit more “The Secret” about the whole thing, it would seem. Negative thoughts won’t be the only thing could potentially derail your efforts in the next season. We would be more concerned if you decided to step up and take Raffi Torres/Jarret Stolls’ role in the E-town party scene this year. There are plenty of clubs that have lost their “an Oiler parties here” cache, and they will be looking to recruit. All the positive thoughts in the world won’t help you if you are rolling into practice hung over—or worse.
An Andrew Cogliano will be a good test of this new coaching/managing/GMing/Director of Hockey Operations machine. Keeping all these kids on the straight and narrow, and productive to boot, is no small order, particularly if they enjoy some more success as a group. It will be interesting to see if they start to get ahead of themselves and develop attitudes. This is hopefully where Daryl Katz can help. If he starts to see 23 little egos getting bigger with each passing game he can bring all the sophomores into a solid gold room in his mansion and give a little speech:
Katz: Show of hands, who here is a billionaire?
(All players sitting cross legged in front of Katz shake their heads and look confusedly at one another.)
Katz: That’s kinda what I thought. See I am a billionaire, and I also happen to own each and every one of you. Do you see me at Chrome Lounge in the North End of town on game nights?
All players: No.
Katz: Precisely. And if my teams of Navy Seals that follow you around see ANY of you out on game nights you will be black-bagged and brought back here to Katz Manor so fast your heads will spin. And you, Cogliano, I will kick your head clear off your shoulders and out that ten-foot window overlooking the beautiful river valley. And I will also have all history of you erased before your head hits the river.
Now THAT is how you avoid a sophomore slump. Strong leadership, surveillance and threats of horrific violence.
Fans can do their part too
Do your old Uncle Wanye a favour too, Nation. Let’s not get into a sophomore slump watch to start this season. This includes avoiding saying things like:
- Is there a sophomore slump?
- Look: the sophomore slump!
- My the Oilers are beset with sophomore slumps this season.
It’s such a stupid thing to discuss, potentially damaging to fragile young psyches and totally removes any intangibles or legitimate reasons for reduced production should that occur. Cogliano and Gagner are both going to be productive for years to come at an NHL level, perhaps even legitimate stars in the league. The last thing they need as they enter into their second NHL season—complete with harder checking lines, more even-strength minutes and (gasp!) expectations—is a bunch of us to sit around saying “Wow, tough luck on that powerplay. Must be the sophomore slump. SHOOOOOOOOOOT”