October 16, 2011
Once in a great while, we are privileged to experience an event so extraordinary, it becomes part of our shared heritage.
Please don't read that as jumping on the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' hyperbole bandwagon, which achieved critical mass some time between his second and third goals for the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night. This is more about seeing the reaction unfurl as Hockey Night In Canada's mythmaking machinery whirred into overdrive and the Twitterverse alternately pushed back against the blind hype — or yielded to the Canadian escapist fantasy embodied by the babyfaced 18-year-old lighting up his hometown Vancouver Canucks.
Nugent-Hopkins' Oilers lost the game, but the night belonged to him. The 18-year-old centre, albeit maybe only on a cursory, knee-jerk level, seems farther away from riding the buses in junior with the Red Deer Rebels than he was a day, a week, a month ago, played his role to the hilt. The Burnaby, B.C., native also looked comfortable in his own skin on HNIC's After Hours feature, even when host Scott Oake teased him about his supposed resemblance to Canadian actress Ellen Page.
What follows is 30 Tweets that take in the whole night. There's the collective wow, the snark about his youthful appearance, the caveats about his work on faceoffs and the competition he faced and the grumbling from resentful Canucks fans. A list of 30 seems appropriate since it represents where Edmonton had to finish in the NHL standings last year to get a shot at winning the draft lottery and landing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Sure, one could have stretched it out to 93 in reference to his new number, but that would be overkill. And away we go:
1. "#Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa on RNH: "We got one more goal than he did tonight. So I guess the Canucks beat Nugent-Hopkins 4-3." — Brad Ziemer, Vancouver Sun
2. "These two players, Nugent & Hopkins, that the Oilers found could bloody well lose them the 2012 first entry draft pick." — lyteforce
4. "Sedin scores but I'm sure they will find a way to credit Nugent-Hopkins. #CBC" — Javier Maltes
5. "Before the 3rd period they should take number 99 down from the rafters and give it to Nugent-Hopkins." — Sairah
6. "Nugent-Hopkins is such an incredible player that he makes Tom Gilbert look good." — P Mo
7. "Nugent-Hopkins is on pace for 109 goals ... anything less at this point is a disappointment. #internetclaims" — Brandon Parenteau
8. "Go figure this.. Shane Doan — 1,122 career NHL games, 0 hat tricks. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins — 3 career NHL games, 1 hat trick." — Chris HodgesChris Hodges
9. "Just finished writing football. What's that? Ryan Nugent Hopkins has a hat trick? Four of the Oilers first five goals scored by RNH?" — Terry Jones, Edmonton Sun columnist
10. "It was a pleasure working with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the #WHL the last 2 years ... he's not coming back ... good luck." — Cory Flett, Western Hockey League media relations
11. "The Nugent-Hopkins chants going while he's on #AfterHours makes me jealous as a Leafs fan. I wish we had a prospect worth chanting over." — Rich Mogridge
12. "Does RNH have more goals than faceoff wins?" — Tyler Dellow
13. "That Scott Oake interview with Alex Burrows was hilarious. 'Alex, isn't Ryan Nugent-Hopkins swell? Do you think he likes me?' " — Pass It To Bulis
14. "@passittobulis At any moment, I thought he'd just burst out and tell some story about Nugent-Hopkins helping him move or something." — Nick Astle
15. "I mean, just the worst, most pandering nonsense from CBC tonight. CBC sang Nugent-Hopkins' praises higher than any player ... ever possibly." — Steve Lepore
16. "Hey Nugent-Hopkins, you think you're impressive with a hat trick? Try buying a beer in Saskatchewan. #Oneuppedbyjordi #bedtimekiddo." — Jordi Bott
17. "There are three non-Nugent-Hopkins tweets I'm my feed. And those are in other languages." — Melissa Martin
18. "It's no wonder the Hall-Nugent-Hopkins-Eberle line is successful, there are four guys on it." — Bruce McCurdy
19. "I know it's early, but Ryan Nugent-Hopkins still hasn't picked up any assists... " — FakeOilersGM
20. "Nugent-Hopkins went to my high school. His grade 10 photo looks the same as he looks right now." — Matt Lee
21. "Nugent-Hopkins on After Hours. Kid looks like he's 14 years old. #NHL #proteinshakespronto." — Philip Wolf
22. "Wonder if Nugent-Hopkins is pissed his mom insisted on keeping her maiden name in her last name @NHL_oilers #runningoutofjerseyspace." — Patrick Nelson
23. "Wayne Gretzky's first career hat trick: Game 50. Nugent-Hopkins: Game 3." — James McCullough
24. "Ryan Nugent-Hopkins got a hatty tonight. What have I done? #nothing #slacking." — David Moscone
25. "Keith Ballard played 8.6 minutes against Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tonight. I don't think that was the matchup [Canucks coach] Alain Vigneault wanted." — Cam Charron
26. "oh my god. I can see the next big sports headline... 'Ryan Nugent-Hopkins listens to Justin Bieber on his iPod.' #goodlord." — Amy
27. "Scott Oake making up for a couple hours of Mark Lee gushing about Nugent-Hopkins with the Ellen Page bit." — Jeff Clowers."
28. "I don't think Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is old enough to remember 'Juno.' #HNIC." — suitoflights
29. "Edmontoners treating Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as the second coming. Well, it's been what? 25 years? Give the dogs a bone." — Cody Muckart
30. "Is the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Show over? Is it safe to turn the TV back on yet?" — Sachi
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports . Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photo: Twitter; video: CBC Sports, NHL.com).