Simon Gagne’s appearance in the Stanley Cup finals was a surprise given his concussion struggles this season.
It wasn’t the first concussion the 32-year-old’s career — it’s believed he suffered three in five months while playing in Philadelphia — but it might’ve been the most severe, costing him 47 regular season and 14 playoff games.
Now healthy and with two games under his belt, Gagne is a good resource in teaching other NHLers about concussions and recovery, and he’s hopeful the player’s union will take it a step further in developing a peer support network.
“I think we’re working on a plan,” Gagne said after Friday’s practice. “The NHLPA will have a group guys that will be able to, if a guy gets that type of injury, reach out to a list of guys that went through it and try to help them go through something like that.
“For guys that haven’t had that type of injury it’s hard. Talking to a bunch of guys this year that never had one, asking me questions about it — they had no clue.”
Gagne dealt with his latest injury by reaching out to teammate and fellow concussion-sufferer Willie Mitchell. Having someone to talk to helped him get over his own worries and concerns.
“It’s always good to have people around that went through it,” Gagne said. “It was not my first one so it wasn’t too bad, I knew what to expect. But for the guys that go through it the first time, it’s scary.”
“You don’t know what to expect and you want to get back and play but some guy is going to make a mistake and go in 95-percent and that’s not what you want.
“I think you need to be really honest with yourself and if you’re not, you’re going to pay for it.”
Los Angeles Kings fans are probably in a great state of mind right now, but there’s often the stray memory of lesser times. Take Adam Deadmarsh, for example, who went from Colorado Cup-winner to Kings injury casualty because of an array of issues, most notably concussion problems. Deadmarsh eventually settled into an assistant coaching gig with the Avalanche, but Adrian Dater passes along profoundly sad news: concussions cut his coaching career short, too.
The slightly bright side is that Deadmarsh will remain with the team in a front office role, just not on the bench where a variety of elements would likely exacerbate those problems.
Dater passes along a message from Deadmarsh’s wife Christa:
“Adam was hurt (concussion issues) this season and decided that health/family and safety are his priority … Adam enjoyed coaching, but this was the right decision … We are back in Idaho and will love being close to our family again:) Hello Idaho friends … we are home:)”
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman answered questions on a wide variety of issues over the course of a five-minute interview. You can check it out below:
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One point he made that I’d like to highlight is that the number of reported concussions went down “a little bit” this season. That might come as a surprise to some people because of all the big name players that missed significant periods of time due to head injuries. It can be easy to lose sight of the big picture when guys like Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, and Chris Pronger get sidelined.
Concussions are still a serious issue, but it’s encouraging to hear that some progress is being made.
Michael Sauer sustained a concussion on Dec. 5 due to a hit dished out by the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Dion Phaneuf. He missed the remainder of the regular season and didn’t participate in the New York Rangers’ lengthy playoff run.
Even after more than five months, it sounds like Sauer still has a long road to recovery ahead of him.
Rangers coach John Tortorella said that Sauer still isn’t ready to start working out and his availability is “a huge question mark.”
When asked if Tortorella would count on Sauer to be ready for training camp, the Rangers coach was direct.
“Nope,” Tortorella said. “No. I’ll be honest with you, no. I can’t.”
After being drafted in 2005, Sauer was only able to establish himself as a regular with the Rangers in 2010-11. He signed a two-year/$2.5 million contract as a restricted free agent last summer and played in 19 games before his season was derailed.
The Bruins weren’t the same team this season once Nathan Horton was put out of commission by a concussion. Horton’s concussion issues left Boston hurting on the wings and without one of their better goal scorers. Now he’s aiming to come back in time for next season and things are shaping up well.
Joe Haggerty from CSNNE.com hears from Horton’s agent about how Horton’s progress is going and there’s reason for the Bruins to be cautiously optimistic.
Horton’s agent, Paul Krepelka, told CSNNE.com that the goal-scoring forward is still on track for a healthy start to next season with three more full months of rest and recovery still in front of him.
“Nathan is coming along,” wrote Krepelka in a text message while keeping tabs with his client this offseason. “We would hope he is good to go at the start of training camp.”
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said adding a top six winger to the team is something he wants to do in the summer but getting Horton back would provide a big lift as David Krejci and Milan Lucic seemed lost without their right wing. If it’s Horton and another top six forward joining the lineup next season, the Bruins will be looking awfully good out of the chute.