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This article was published 1/10/2013 (996 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
EDMONTON -- When Sam Gagner talks out of the side of his mouth, he can't help it.
The Edmonton Oilers centre is giving you his straight opinions. It's just that the left side of his jaw, repaired by surgery last week, is wired shut, or almost shut, revealing just the start of a missing row of teeth.
Gagner could miss about six more weeks after being smashed by the stick of Vancouver's Zack Kassian in an exhibition game.
Kassian said he thought it was a hockey play.
Gagner, the jaw issues aside, had no trouble telling reporters Tuesday he didn't agree.
"I think it was reckless," Gagner said. "I obviously don't think he was trying to hit me in the face by any means but it's one of those plays you've got to be aware of your stick. That's all I have to say."
The setback, combined with the not-quite-there-yet recovery of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins takes a pretty good bite out of the Oilers lineup at centre to start the season.
"It's never fun to be injured," Gagner said. "I've prided myself on trying to stay healthy and trying to play through things. It's tough to be sitting out and watching your team play, especially at the start of the year when you've worked hard in the off-season to get ready then get hurt in the pre-season."
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Mark Scheifele has a bit of a head start on many NHL rookies.
Tuesday's season-opener in Edmonton was career game No. 12 for Scheifele.
But after starting with the Jets each of the last two seasons before being sent back to junior, the 20-year-old centre suggested Tuesday morning this time will be different.
"I feel the best I've ever felt," Scheifele said. "I feel confident, I feel strong. The past few years maybe I felt a little intimidated a little and this I feel like I fit with any guy in the league, skate with anyone. I can't wait to get it started."
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The Jets announced Tuesday they have signed 18-year-old Swede Axel Blomqvist to an entry-level contract.
The 6-6 right-winger participated in the club's summer prospects camp and also played for the Jets at the five-team rookie tournament in Penticton, B.C., in early September.
He was returned to the WHL's Lethbridge Hurricanes after main training camp.
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The darling of a large group of reporters for a long conversation on Tuesday was Jets rookie defenceman Jacob Trouba, just 19.
The Michigan native was just beaming, happy to be part of the 2013-14 season-opening story.
"I always watched Red Wings home openers growing up," Trouba said. "It's pretty exciting to be part of it now. It's something I looked forward to as a kid; now this is pretty cool to be part of."
Trouba said his family members are sports nuts.
"We always liked watching sporting events," he said. "Anything Detroit sports we'd watch. Hockey was something special for me. I grew up watching (Nik Lidstrom). He's a pretty good guy to watch. I don't think I'm a Lidstrom out there but he was a special guy to watch."
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Jets coach Claude Noel had his caution signs out for reporters on Tuesday.
Many were asking about the team's chances to crack the playoff grade this season.
"I think it's too early to start thinking about the playoffs," Noel said. "I think we have to focus on the process and focus on the task that's in front of us. For now, we're in Edmonton trying to get ourselves a first win.
"We know that all the games are important, that we have to get off to a good start. We're not looking at the big picture of things. We know there's a process."