Boston Bruins

Gagne (concussion) hoping to make an impact

775312.jpg

Gagne (concussion) hoping to make an impact

NEWARK, NJ -- Simon Gagne is hoping to make his presence felt in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The 32-year-old winger has been out since just after Christmas with a concussion suffered against the Phoenix Coyotes. Hes experienced major troubles returning from concussions in the past, but Gagne has resumed practicing with the team and says he feels good.

The winger said during Tuesdays Stanley Cup Finals media day that he wouldnt return to action unless he was 100 percent after the complications in 2007-08.

With those types of head injuries I had never really waited until I was 100 percent before, said Gagne. This time I did that. I stayed in LA the whole time and I never lost the feeling for the team.

Gagne has been cleared for a possible return, but its hard to envision him displacing somebody in a playoff-tuned Kings lineup. Its the same combination of LA hockey players thats needed only 14 games to pillage their way through the Western Conference.

Every hockey player wants to play. Its difficult to sit out, said LA assistant coach John Stevens. Hes worked hard and got himself back physically where he needs to be. Hes really close to being available if it gets down to that. Simon has had a lot of success and hes been at this point before without having success.

Im sure hes anxious to get in there and play, but more than anything hockey players want to help their team win. To his credit every day hes becoming a better player and more ready to play. Thats what he needs to do.

Gagne cleared all of the concussion testing two weeks ago, and he says there are plenty of positives for his return to the Kings lineup. Gagne is something of an NHL good luck charm as he was in the Cup Finals two years ago as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, and made it Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last year with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

But a successful return to game action could be difficult. New York Rangers forward Brian Boyle likened trying to return to playoff intensity after a concussion to trying to jump on a speeding train.

The speed of the game is always maxed out when two teams stand just four wins away from hoisting the Cup. Gagne understands all this, and said he knows what to expect after previously experiencing the playoff line of fire.

For sure there will be some adaptation to it. I felt good in practice and I felt good shooting the puck, said Gagne, who missed 48 games this season with injuries. I feel good one-on-one, but playing in a game is a totally different situation.

I think the plus on my side is that I know the level that the game is going to be. Two years and even last year losing Game 7 in the conference finals: its still so fresh in my mind. I think I could put myself into it really quick. Having that experience will help, and at this point in the season not a lot of guys are 100 percenteven mentally or physically. Some guys are very tired from playing so many games in such a short time. Im 100 percent and Im fresh, so thats a plus on my side.

So which tired forward is Gagne looking to edge out of the lineup in the playoffs?

Dustin Penner and rookie Dwight King have both been outstanding on the left wing in the postseason, and it might just take an injury during the Cup Finals to open the door for Gagnes triumphant return.

But its a testament to the Kings depth that a guy thats scored almost 300 career goals stands as the first man into the breach for Los Angeles when injuries arrive. Gagne is ready to step in when hes needed.

Morning Skate: Kassian completes transition from villain to hero for Oilers

oilers_kassian_072817.jpg

Morning Skate: Kassian completes transition from villain to hero for Oilers

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling that US democracy still works even there are extreme factors that our founding fathers couldn’t possibly have imagined. 

 

*Edmonton Oilers reclamation project Zack Kassian continues his journey from villain to hero in the eyes of the Oil Faithful. 

 

*Old warrior Chris Neil is weighing NHL offers right now along with a number of other older veterans still waiting for the right situation to present itself for next season. Many of these veterans are probably going to have to report to training camps on tryout agreements and beat out younger players for jobs, and that may be exactly what happens with a grizzled, tough old bird like Neil. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bruins bring in a veteran or two on PTO agreements in camp, and that could be the ultimate fate for guys like Neil, Jarome Iginla, Shane Doan and even Thomas Vanek. 

 

*The Vegas Golden Knights are still looking to inspire with a developing locker room message as their maiden voyage still awaits this season. 

 

*PHT writer James O’Brien has longtime Habs defenseman Andrei Markov leaving for the KHL after he couldn’t come to an agreement to stay in Montreal with the Canadiens. 

 

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Ryan Kennedy has a prospects mailbag at this quiet point in the summer, and he’s very, very high on Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat. 

 

*The Hockey News details why somebody needs to step up and sign the legendary Jaromir Jagr as one of the aforementioned veteran forwards still looking for a job. 

 

*For something completely different: Solid Steve Lattimer reference in this Pro Football Talk story about performance enhancing drugs. 

Morning Skate: Star players must get more involved in CBA negotiations to make Olympics a reality

cp-morning-skate.jpg

Morning Skate: Star players must get more involved in CBA negotiations to make Olympics a reality

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling that we’re just now learning about the massive rap skills of the brotherly duo of Andrew and Pete Frates. 

 

*Ken Campbell from the Hockey News says that if influential players, like Connor McDavid, want to go to the Olympics then they need to get more involved in the CBA negotiations

 

*Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang shows what a class act he is by taking the Stanley Cup to a children’s hospital in Montreal.

 

*PHT writer James O’Brien has the Minnesota Wild looking to find long term deals for both restricted free agents Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter. That was pretty clear when they chose to deal off Marco Scandella in order to clear up some cap space to afford both of them. 

 

*The Edmonton Oilers are going to face higher expectations for next season, and are willing to embrace that kind of pressure.

 

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Craig Custance wonders aloud whether there will be any offer sheets coming for restricted free agents. I appreciate Craig wanting to add a little more intrigue to the NHL’s offseason, but it isn’t going to happen as long as GMs are treated like they have small pox once they go that route with an offer sheet. Take a look at the future job prospects for general managers that went with offer sheets in the past, and you’ll see why GMs simply don’t do them. This is why the Bruins are uncomfortable with David Pastrnak sitting unsigned as a restricted free agent, but not overly concerned that he’s going to sign a mega-offer sheet elsewhere.  

 

*The CCM hockey brand is apparently changing hands from its former home at Adidas

 

*For something completely different: Speaking of Pete Frates, MLB has announced a fundraising drive for ALS research in his name.