Ryan Nu­gent-hop­kins has seen it all in his eight NHL years … Lots of mulling went into al­ter­nate cap­taincy de­ci­sion … Haas scram­bling to bring fam­ily over­seas to first game

Edmonton Sun - - SPORTS - jim MATHE­SON

Ryan Nu­gent-hop­kins hasn’t played for 93 coaches in his eight NHL sea­sons, it just seems like it.

No­body is into math more than the longest-serv­ing Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers player.

“I think there’s nine … may take a sec­ond to name ‘em all. Tom Ren­ney, Ralph Krueger, Dal­las Eakins, Mact (Craig Mac­tavish) who stepped in for a few games, then Todd Nel­son, then Todd Mclellan, Hitch (Ken Hitch­cock) and now Tip (Dave Tip­pett),” said Nu­gent-hop­kins, throw­ing out names like a gro­cery list.

“I swear there’s nine, but this is only eight. Who did I miss?”

Turns out, no­body. Ren­ney is pres­i­dent of Hockey Canada, Krueger coaches Buf­falo, Eakins coaches Ana­heim, Mac­tavish was just let go in Yaroslavl in the KHL, Nel­son is as­sis­tant coach in Dal­las, Mclellan coaches Los Angeles, bring­ing the Kings here Satur­day, Hitch­cock is an ad­viser to GM Ken Hol­land.

Gen­eral man­agers? “Four … (Steve) Tam­bellini, Mact, Peter (Chiarelli) and now Hol­land. No, there’s five if you count (in­terim) Keith Gret­zky,” he said.

Cap­tains? “Not so many. Uh, three. Horc (Shawn) Hor­coff, Andrew Fer­ence, now Con­nor.”

“Ac­tu­ally four. Ryan Smyth had it for one night (last game),” said Nu­gent-hop­kins.

“How many guys have worn the A with me? 0ooh, that’s a tough one.”

RNH is in his sev­enth year with the A on his jer­sey.


Tip­pett said a lot of thought went into Dar­nell Nurse and Leon Drai­saitl added as al­ter­nate cap­tains this year along with Nu­gent-hop­kins and Adam Lars­son. “(Os­car) Klef­bom could eas­ily have an A too. I put him as one of the lead­ers on the hockey club,” said Tip­pett.

“Nurse is a young guy and very vo­cal and I like that. He’s a go-getter, a guy who’s try­ing to step out. And Leon has a lot of re­spect in our room and dic­tates what hap­pens with our team and how we play, and the ac­count­abil­ity we have. He takes on a lot of re­spon­si­bil­ity,” he said.


When Swiss-born centre Gae­tan Haas found out Tues­day he was play­ing his first NHL game with Oil­ers, he was in a bit of a panic, try­ing to get his loved ones here to see him in ac­tion. He got on the phone and helped with flights here for his par­ents, his brother and un­cle, and they ar­rived in the late af­ter­noon. His dad is a car­pen­ter, his mom a nurse back home. As Haas told TSN’S Ja­son Gre­gor “I’ve waited 27 years for this.” His Bern team is 3-4-1 with­out him, by the way.


Van­cou­ver rookie de­fence­man Quinn Hughes, 19, saw Con­nor Mc­david up close a few years ago so he’s not as in­tim­i­dated as he might have been Wed­nes­day. “I played him in the world cham­pi­onship the year be­fore I was drafted. He’s crazy good … and I think he was sick the game he played against us (USA).”


The Oil­ers have jug­gled their en­tire seat­ing chart in the dress­ing room with only de­fence­man Lars­son and goalie Mikko Kosk­i­nen in the same spot as last year. De­fence­men usu­ally sit to­gether along the left wall but now they’re in­ter­spersed around for­wards. “Just wanted a new look,” said Tip­pett, who must have some method to throw­ing locker ar­range­ment into a blender.

Mc­david is now flanked by role play­ers Markus Gran­lund and Josh Archibald.

“We’ve al­ways had the D on one side, then we got to the for­wards,” said RNH.“I don’t know why they’re do­ing this … I’ve had Leon be­side me for awhile, and also had Jor­dan (Eberle) and (Ryan) Strome. Who else? Jeezus, my memory’s re­ally rolling to­day,” laughed Nu­gent-hop­kins, get­ting tired at list­ing coaches, GMS, cap­tains and neigh­bours in the dress­ing room.


Wayne Gret­zky, now 58, was in the house Wed­nes­day as Oiler Entertainm­ent Group vicechair and al­ter­nate gov­er­nor, 40 years af­ter his Oiler home opener, a 3-3 tie with Detroit Oct. 13, 1979. Fel­low teenager Mark Messier got the ty­ing goal on Hall of Famer Ro­gie Va­chon with 2 1/2 min­utes left, his first NHL score. Detroit also had HHOF for­ward Va­clav Ne­do­man­sky and Peter Ma­hovlich…this is the first time in 10 years the Oil­ers don’t have a teenager on their open­ing night ros­ter…centre Kyle Brodziak, who can’t play any­more be­cause of a de­gen­er­a­tive back disc, opens the sea­son on in­jured re­serve rather than long-term in­jury but he’ll be moved to LTI later… With winger Sam Gag­ner in Bak­ers­field that gives the AHL Con­dors a right side of Gag­ner, Kailer Ya­mamoto, Josh Cur­rie, Cameron He­big, who had a good camp, along with tough guy An­thony Peluso. The Oil­ers are on the hook for $2.075 mil­lion on their NHL cap for Gag­ner…elias Pet­ters­son has let the broad­cast­ers know his name is pro­nounced Peter­son now, a good thing con­sid­er­ing how of­ten they’ll be say­ing it if he’s a point-agame player in his sec­ond NHL sea­son…van­cou­ver equip­ment man­ager Pat O’neill, who’s in the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame, is only 95 games from 3,000, start­ing with Win­nipeg Jets. “Forty years,” said O’neill, who has worked for at least 20 dif­fer­ent coaches in his day.


Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers centre Ryan Nu­gent-hop­kins has seen a fair bit of turnover dur­ing his near decade-long ten­ure with the team.

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