Gagne, Bergeron have much in common

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Gagne, Bergeron have much in common

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

The first concussion came in October of 2007. It was frightening the way he hit the ice.

He returned to his team, only to be hit again. He ended up sitting out more than half the year.

To see him go down yet another time was a nightmare. It was the 2011 playoffs. The score was tied, 1-1, and the tension was palpable when he took the blow. Teammates, coaches and fans couldn't help but think of his history. "No, no. Not again," they murmured, hands over their mouths.

Simon Gagne and Patrice Bergeron have too much in common.

Bergeron, of course, was concussed -- for the third time in his NHL career -- in Game 4 of this year's Eastern Conference semifinals. Claude Giroux laid a shoulder hit to Bergeron's head that sent him flying backwards to the ice. The score was tied 1-1. Everyone who saw him kneeling on the ice feared for his future because of his past.

Gagne's past is, unfortunately, eerily similar.

Bergeron was first hurt in October 2007, when he was thrown headfirst into the boards and received a Grade 3 concussion that caused him to miss the rest of the year. Gagne also received a concussion, his first, in October 2007 when he was playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He missed four games, returned, and suffered another concussion on Nov. 7. This one precipitated a 26-game rest. First shift back? Say goodnight, Gagne. The third hit, by Pittsburgh's Jordan Staal, was the KO blow. Post-concussion specialist Dr. Jim Kelly advised Gagne to stay off the ice for the rest of the season. Kelly's diagnosis revealed not three concussions, but one that never healed.

Bergeron's second concussion occured in December, 2008. His third came last week against the Flyers.

Gagne, now playing for Tampa Bay, got dumped into the boards by Washington's Scott Hannan during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals . . , with the score tied, 1-1. He missed the remainder of the series.

Here's where the Bruins hope the GagneBergeron comparison continues to hold. Gagne only missed three games, and should be back in the lineup for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

"It is not like I had in the past. It is not like a concussion," Gagne told NHL.com. "I hurt myself and I felt really good after -- it was nothing like, no symptoms that was equal to a concussion, so that was a good sign.

"That's why I am back that early on the ice. I was feeling really good soon after it happened, so that's why I'm not worried about that type of injury like I had in the past. It is not the same thing."

Bergeron has been diagnosed with a concussion, so his return date is still up the air. He didn't practice Friday morning and still needs to get through a mandatory seven-day symptom free wait before resuming physical activity.

But, like Gagne, the Bruins are hopeful this injury isn't as bad as the ones in the past.

Hes improving. He really is improving. We're optimistic about that, coach Claude Julien said after Friday practice. We knew he was going to miss the start of the series, but how much of it hes going to miss we cant tell you right now.

Hes on the right track. Were just staying positive."

It can't be easy.
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These playoffs have been spectacular; five Game 7s have been forced and 20 games have gone to sudden-death overtime. Nobody wants to see the excitement tempered by any kind of injuries, concussions least of all.

Happily, Simon Gagne's worry was brief this time.

Hopefully, Patrice Bergeron's will be, as well.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Ramirez bothered by right shoulder more than last year

Ramirez bothered by right shoulder more than last year

BOSTON — Hanley Ramirez on Wednesday afternoon acknowledged his shoulders are bothering him more this year than last year.

In specific, it’s the right (throwing) shoulder that’s bothersome, he said to CSNNE, noting it just doesn’t move as he wants it to — rotating his arm as he spoke. Asked how that happened, how it worsened, he said it was in spring training that he thinks he pushed it too hard.

On the positive side, Ramirez said his shoulders are improving.

"Honestly, yeah, it's feeling better now," Ramirez told a group of reporters. "It's started feeling better now than early in the year. I can use the top hand and drop a little bit the head of the bat. I was losing that. I was talking to [hitting coaches Chili Davis and Victor Rodriguez] about that. I've got to be able to use that top hand. Like Jim Rice."

Ramirez, who seems to always want to be playful in his interactions with the media, appeared surprised to learn that he was not hitting lefties well so far this year. He’s 5-for-35 against them.

Ramirez was out the lineup for a third straight game Wednesday, but took batting practice on the field and also took grounders at first base. As batting practice ended, he spoke to a group of reporters coming off the field.

"What am I hitting against lefties right now?” Ramirez asked in a response to a question about how he was feeling vs. southpaws.

It was low, he was told. He waited while a reporter used his phone to look up the specifics for him.

“Is it really? So it’s not me. I've got to get going because I crush lefties. It can't happen,” Ramirez said in the group. "You're kidding me. It took you long enough to tell me that. I didn't know that for real. So OK, after this conversation, let's see what's going to happen now. I'll say it. Yeah. Bring it. OK? I didn't know, I swear. Interesting. Thank you.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell wasn’t sure if Ramirez’s struggles vs. lefties was related to his shoulders. 

“Because if there’s the need or the tendency for Hanley to start his swing early because he might not feel as loose or reactive, as he might otherwise, if a left-hander’s going to sink the ball away from him or keep the ball on the outside of the plate and that early commitment might cause you to pull off some pitches, that’s one possibility,” Farrell said. “But I can’t say that’s the absolute sole reason.”

The Sox still believe Ramirez is healthy enough to contribute well.

“Without being in his body, and knowing what he’s feeling, you know, if you watch the number of hours he puts in for the shoulder maintenance, that’s real,” Farrell said. “All we can evaluate is his feedback and how he swings the bat with either the plate coverage or the aggressiveness and the ability to impact the baseball. And there has been stretches of that. I think he would be the first to admit, would like for it to be more consistent.”

Farrell was asked a bunch of questions about Ramirez on Wednesday afternoon in the usual pre-game press conference, including whether he’s difficult to manage. If that’s the case — and it sure seems so —  Farrell did not let on.

"With individuals you take the added time needed to sit down and talk things through and get a sense of where each individual player is," Farrell said. "I wouldn’t say Hanley is different than other guys in that clubhouse."

Ramirez did very well in the second half last year and was optimistic.

“It's coming along,” he said. “I think second half's coming and I'm ready for that. ... Just one click and you go from there. Like I said, I'm not going to stop working. I'm going to get hot.”