For those that missed it, here is the fight video again. Now obviously the “Enforcer” title for Sam Gagner is purely tongue in cheek, but he actually held his own pretty well. According to HockeyFights.com, Gagner was 1-1 going into the fight (with a win over Ryan Kesler – hmmmm – and a loss to Jack Johnson). Craig Conroy also only had 2 bouts, with one being a loss to Jared Boll in 2008, and the other being a fight way back in 2000 vs. Jarome Iginla that was unranked on HockeyFights.com, but I can tell you (as you would expect) that Conroy did not do well. So he was 0-2 going into the bought. So far, Gagner is winning the ranking on the fight by about 5%. That’s pretty impressive, given that Gagner was at the disadvantage being up against “old man power”.
So, shame on Craig Conroy for instigating a fight with Sam Gagner, right? Even Quinn pondered “I don’t know where the instigator went” during Hockey Night in Canada’s After Hours segment. Well, believe it or not, it was Sam Gagner’s idea.
“I wasn’t expecting him to say anything but he leaned over to me and said ‘you want to get this thing going?”’ Conroy said of Gagner. “I’m not known for it, but he wanted to go. He was probably frustrated. He wasn’t getting to play a lot. Maybe I shouldn’t have fought him because he came back to get the tying goal.”
“Mutual agreement…I don’t have anything against him personally but I was just trying to get involved any way I could,” said the seasoned scrapper, Gagner, who was doing his best Mike Keane impersonation on the fight.
Ater the pre-season, Quinn sent the young center a message to be a better team player by demoting Gagner to the 4th line with Moreau and Stortini (although Quinn states that he doesn’t put emphasis on line numbers). But the old man was impressed with Gagner’s play Saturday night, declaring “that’s the best I’ve seen Sam play since I’ve been here.”
“Guys that are selected high need to start making some steps,” Quinn stated on HNIC After Hours. “We were looking for that earlier on and I only got to watch him for 2 and a half to 3 weeks and he hadn’t shown a lot of what he does well, but he did tonight. After he got in the little mix-up, he seemed to be enthused by it. Maybe he’s been concentrating so hard at not following up that he wasn’t playing his game and maybe after that it loosened him up. All of a sudden he was a significant player. He jumped on that loose puck for the (3rd) goal, and enough so that I finished the game playing him on a regular basis when I cut down to 3 (lines).”
So I’m not sure if that positive game means we’ll see Gagner bumped backed up to a better line, but he at least caught the coaches eye and showed adversity. Whether he’s back on line 3 as of Tuesday or not, I suspect we’ll see him moved up very soon.