Sittler talks Gagner’s ‘magical’ night

Darryl Sittler knows exactly how Sam Gagner felt.

”Everything falls into place,” he said. ”Every shot you take
pretty well goes in or you make a pass and the guy completes it.
It’s magical those types of nights. They don’t happen very
often.”

Gagner finished with eight points — four goals, four
assists — in Edmonton’s 8-4 victory over Chicago on Thursday
night. The Oilers’ forward became just the 12th NHL player to total
at least that many points in a game — and the first since
Mario Lemieux on Dec. 31, 1988.

Sittler, the former captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, has held
the NHL record since Feb. 7, 1976. His landmark game against Boston
featured six goals and four assists. It remains an evening he still
can’t explain.

”I would never have thought that in my wildest dreams that I
would be the one to score 10 points in a game, but it happened,”
Sittler told The Canadian Press on Friday. ”I’m sure Gagner
probably never thought he’d have eight.

”He’s been struggling a little bit this season — I don’t
know if he’s had injuries or what it is — but he certainly
put up the points last night.”

All of Gagner’s goals and assists came in the final 40 minutes.
After finishing the second period with three points, he scored the
first of three third-period goals at 1:54. He would add two more
assists as well.

Sensing what was happening, the fans at Rexall Place chanted
”We want 10! We want 10!” — a nod to both a previous
blowout win over Chicago and Sittler’s record.

”I didn’t think I would ever be mentioned in the same breath as
(Wayne) Gretzky or (Paul) Coffey,” said the 22-year-old Gagner.
”You never expect to do something like this.”

”It’s a great lesson to never set limits,” he added. ”The
great players who played here never did that. It was just one of
those games where everything went in and just a great
feeling.”

Even though scoring in hockey has been greatly reduced since
Sittler set his record, he’s still surprised it hasn’t been
challenged. No other NHL player has even reached nine points.

”It’s gone on for a long time,” Sittler said. ”I guess the
fact that there were so many great players like Wayne and Mario
(Lemieux) and Sidney (Crosby) and (Alex) Ovechkin, and the number
of years that passed. … I get asked about it all the time.”

The 51-year-old Sittler works in community relations for the
Maple Leafs. He understands that records, even as long-standing as
his, eventually fall.

”Those things are out of your control,” he said. ”If somebody
breaks it, that would be great. No different I guess when I tied
and broke (Maurice) Rocket Richard’s record – a great Canadian hero
and he scored it in the ’40s. I don’t think anyone would have
thought that somebody else was going to get eight (points) or six
(goals) in a game, that sort of thing. And it happened.

”If it happens to somebody, I’d be happy for them. But, hey, am
I glad to hold the record and would like to continue holding it?
Sure, definitely.”

But he knows that one day that may no longer be the case.

”If the stars are aligned right and everything is working, it
might happen someday,” Sittler said. ”I’m glad to have done it in
a Leafs uniform and I’m proud to have held the record for as long
as I have so far.”

Gagner did manage one entry into the Oilers’ record book. He
tied the franchise mark for most points in a game, joining Gretzky
and Coffey.