Armstrong’s Aaron Gagnon

Armstrong’s Aaron Gagnon

Jerred Smithson’s roller-coaster week

Vernon's Jerred Smithson celebrates birth of first child amidst being traded from Florida Panthers to Edmonton Oilers.

Jerred Smithson woke up Wednesday morning in Sunrise, Fla. as a Florida Panther and smiled at his very pregnant fiancée Jaymie Hackman.

Jerred woke up Thursday a member of the Edmonton Oilers and an expectant father.

Jaymie was scheduled to be induced around dinner time in Florida and deliver the couple’s first son. They named the six-pound, nine-ounce winger Hunter. Not sure what was wrong with my suggestion: Kevin Eberle Hall Smithson.

Jerred will wake up today in Los Angeles, where he is scheduled to make his Oiler debut Monday night against the Anaheim Ducks.

It’s the fourth NHL team for the Vernon minor hockey grad. This will be his most stressful move after living in L.A., and Nashville in the show, and minor-league cities Lowell, Mass., Manchester, N.H. and Milwaukee after five years of Major Junior with the Calgary Hitmen.

Many fans assume pro athletes, after a trade, just stuff a few suits and a pair of Armani shoes in a Nike bag, grab an electric toothbrush and settle into their new place.

Smithson said his head was spinning big time after learning he was an Oiler. Every day away from his precious new son is a day he can’t get back. Sure, he makes $800,000 a year, but you can’t put a price on a newborn child.

And as Smithson starts work on a new chapter in his life, so does former Vernon Viper leading scorer Mike Santorelli, another Panther who was leaving on a jet plane.

On the same day Smithson was dealt, Santorelli, who billeted with Ariel Tyk’s family in Vernon, was plucked off the waiver wire by the Winnipeg Jets.

Santorelli, of Vancouver, has followed Smithson from Milwaukee to Nashville and Florida, with a short stint in San Antonio, Tex. in between. This is also his fourth NHL team.

And then there’s Aaron Gagnon, the pride of Armstrong.

In case you forgot about the one-time Seattle Thunderbird centre, Gagnon is now with the American Hockey League St. John’s IceCaps.

He’s on The Rock of Canada, and was just named the CCM/AHL Player of the Month for March.

The Winnipeg Jets took notice and recalled the smooth-skating Gagnon on Thursday. He wore No. 21 and got nine minutes of ice time in a 4-1 loss to the Canadiens. Santorelli played just over 14 minutes.

After five years in Seattle, Gagnon has put on bus miles in Boise, Idaho, Des Moines, Iowa, Grand Rapids, Mich., and a few air miles with the Dallas Stars and Jets. He has played 29 NHL games, including one with Winnipeg this season, and has two career assists.

Gagnon, who returned to the St. John’s lineup on Feb. 10 after missing six weeks due to injury, hit his stride in March, recording a point in all 11 games he played – totaling nine goals and nine assists.

After recording single points in each of his first three games in March, Gagnon recorded his first two-goal game of the season in a 4-2 loss to Syracuse on the ninth. He had 1+1 in a 5-0 win over Hamilton six nights later and tied a career high with three assists in a 4-3 victory at Manchester on the 24th.

Gagnon scored twice, including his third game-winning goal of the month, to help the IceCaps past Albany, 4-2, on March 27, and finished the month with 1+1 in a come-from-behind 5-4 overtime win at Worcester on the 30th.

Armstrong super hockey fan Sharon Bain steered me to a YouTube post with Gagnon being interview by Caps’ play-by-play man Brian Rogers.

Said Gagnon: “I feel great. It’s just one of those things. It’s a funny game how it works. At the start of the season, I couldn’t get anything going and once I found my game, things have been bouncing my way.”

Gagnon posted three winning goals, three on the powerplay and two shorthanded. The Caps were second-to-last in the 16-team Eastern Division on Friday afternoon. They will miss the playoffs.

Among Gagnon’s teammates in Newfoundland are Nanaimo Clipper grad Raymond Sawada and ex-Red Wing/Jet Derek Meech.

In recognition of his achievement, Gagnon was supposed to be presented with an etched crystal award prior to the IceCaps home game Friday night against the Toronto Marlies. He was still with the Jets so that ceremony was postponed.

Gagnon has racked up 74 goals and 172 points in 328 career AHL games over six seasons, and reached the Calder Cup finals with the Texas Stars in 2010.