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.”
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.
Rangers forward Brian Boyle is doing better in coming back from the concussion he suffered in Game 5 against Ottawa.
Boyle practiced with the Rangers today and told NHL.com’s Dan Rosen that while he’s feeling better, he has no idea when he’ll be back in the Rangers lineup.
“It’s progressed, but they’re (concussions) not consistent with each guy,” Boyle said. “Each guy feels different symptoms. So, I’m just trying to be honest with myself.”
In Boyle’s stead, rookie Chris Kreider has helped make a name for himself and established what you’d have to think is a permanent spot in the Rangers lineup. With Boyle and Brandon Dubinsky out of the lineup in Game 1, the Rangers opted to go with seven defensemen seeing Steve Eminger play his first game of the postseason on the fourth line.
As for Dubinsky, he was seen in the locker room on crutches. Dubinsky was injured in Game 7 and missed Game 1 with a leg injury and Rangers coach John Tortorella offered no update on his status.
You can never accuse Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson for not having a flair for the dramatic.
Alfredsson’s Ottawa team is on home ice tonight with a chance to finish off the top seeded New York Rangers and after missing the last three games with a concussion, Alfie will be in the lineup tonight to help his team try to end the series.
Alfredsson missed the last three games thanks to the elbow to the head he received from Rangers forward Carl Hagelin. Coincidentally enough, Hagelin will be back in the Rangers lineup tonight after serving his three-game suspension.
In the two games Alfredsson has played, he has a goal and no assists. The stats may not be there in that small sample size, but his presence is huge for Ottawa. Expect things to be even crazier in Kanata with Alfredsson back in action. A tough road for the Rangers just got that much more difficult.
While the Chicago Blackhawks closed out the season without the services of captain Jonathan Toews, things are shaping up so Toews might just be ready to go for Game 1 against Phoenix.
NHL.com’s Brian Hedger reports Toews took line rushes with Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa at this morning’s practice in Chicago. It’s the first time Toews has taken line rushes since going out of the lineup with a concussion. Toews also worked on the first power play unit and all signs seem to point toward Toews being cleared for game action soon.
The curious part of Toews recovery from a concussion is how it’s been handled. Just last week Toews talked about how he was having symptoms causing many to wonder if he was actually further off from returning than previously thought. With today’s developments, it’s hard to imagine that Toews won’t be ready to go against Phoenix for Game 1 on Thursday.
Update (via CSNChicago.com):
Toews spoke to reporters after practice and, while he didn’t fully commit to playing Thursday, he seems to be leaning towards it.
“We wanted to err on the cautious side by me not playing (at the end of the regular season). I’m feeling more confident that Thursday might be the day but we’ll see when that time comes,” said Toews. “Whenever I come back, I’ll definitely want to keep it simple and go out and play a gritty game. The key is not trying to do too much.”