Sam Gagner was still having trouble Friday believing his name is in the Edmonton Oilers record book alongside the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey.
Gagner moved himself into such lofty company after registering a club record-tying eight points in Edmonton’s 8-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.
”You can’t really recreate a memory like that,” Gagner said after the Oilers’ skate Friday morning. ”I’m not sure if it’s even sunk in fully yet.
”Once the summer hits, it might. For myself, I’m trying to stay even-keeled as much as I can. It’s hard but we have games coming up. It seems like we play every other day. I’ve got to find a way to just kind of relax and get some sleep and get ready for the next one.”
Gagner had four goals and four assists to become just the 11th player in NHL history to register eight points in one game. Gretzky did it twice, against New Jersey in 1983 and Minnesota in 1984, while Coffey did so against Detroit in 1986.
Gretzky’s No. 99 and Coffey’s No. 7 hang in the rafters at Rexall Place, and both players are in the Hockey Hall of Fame. They contacted Gagner to offer their congratulations.
”To be mentioned in a record with those guys is a pretty special feeling and just really an honor,” Gagner said.
”To get a text from someone like that, who is the best player of all time, it’s something he didn’t have to do,” he said of Gretzky. ”To take time out of his day to do that, it was really special for me and it meant a lot.”
He still hasn’t read all the other text messages he received.
”I had 60 last night and another 50 when I got up this morning,” Gagner told a large group of reporters. ”It’s a lot of work texting everyone back, but it’s nice to see the support from everyone.”
Mario Lemieux twice had eight points and was the last to do so before Gagner. In fact, the 22-year-old Gagner wasn’t even born when Lemieux did it for the second time Dec. 31, 1988, against New Jersey.
”I think it speaks volumes to how crazy getting eight points in a game in today’s era is and how it just doesn’t happen,” linemate Taylor Hall said.
”It’s just an amazing stat and I’m grateful I was there to see it,” he added.
Darryl Sittler of the Toronto Maple Leafs holds the NHL record of 10 points in one game. He accomplished the feat against the Boston Bruins at Maple Leaf Gardens on Feb. 7, 1976.
”When I had eight, guys were talking about it, that I had a chance to tie Darryl Sittler,” Gagner said. ”I was like, ‘There’s three minutes left. I’m not sure if that’s going to happen.’
”I wasn’t even thinking of scoring nine to beat Gretzky. I just wanted to continue to keep it going.”
Slowed by a sprained ankle to start the season and shifted between center and both wings by coach Tom Renney, Gagner got his first prolonged chance to play with Hall and Jordan Eberle when rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins injured his shoulder in Chicago on Jan. 2.
”He didn’t get any (points) in the first period, which is even more incredible that he got them all in just two periods,” said Nugent-Hopkins, who’s expected to return against Detroit on Saturday. ”Definitely, they’re going to stick together after a night like that.”
In the waning seconds, teammates were urging Gagner to take another shift in an attempt to move past Gretzky and Coffey. But he stayed on the bench, completely spent.
”It was just an extraordinary night,” defenseman Ladislav Smid said. ”Thank God we had him in the lineup. It’s great.
”I’m so happy for him. He has shown several times this season he’s a great teammate. Everybody goes through some bumps, you know? You couldn’t really tell. He was positive around us. He had a few fights, just to show that he cares.”
Gagner had one goal and five assists in the first 12 games Nugent-Hopkins missed before Thursday’s performance.
”I just wanted to continue to tell myself that there was still a long way left to go,” Gagner said of his slow start. ”I just wanted to work hard and fight my way back.
”I still believe there is still a long way to go. There’s a lot left to prove and I’ve got to make sure I’m ready every day to come to the rink and produce. That has to be my mindset.”