As Simon Gagne took the ice Monday, the rest of the team was put on red alert. "Don't hit the guy in the red jersey.'' Gagne was not looking for that sort of gingerly approach as he returned to practice for the first time since his head struck in the ice on April 29, during Game 1 against Washington. Team rules, however, dictated the protocol. Gagne wore a red, non-contact jersey to participate in the Lightning's full 90-minute, on-ice workout in preparation for the Eastern Conference finals against Boston. When Game 1 is played against the Bruins — most likely not until Saturday given the uncertainty in the Western Conference — Gagne will be ready to play. "Skating with the team (Monday) felt pretty good, so that's a good sign," Gagne said. "We have plenty of time now, and we don't know exactly when we are going to play, but right now it's perfect timing to get in maybe three to five practices. I think we'll be good to go for Game 1.'' In some ways, the thought of Gagne getting ready for the next round seems amazing considering the hit he took and the frightening image of him prone on the ice, a stretcher ready to cart him away. While chasing a puck into the right corner, Gagne was checked by Capitals defenseman Scott Hannan into the boards in such a way that Gagne was completely in the air and nearly horizontal to the ice. As Gagne came down in an almost defenseless position, his head hit squarely on the ice. Though he said it did not knock him unconscious, it certainly left him dazed. After several moments, Gagne sat up under his own power and left the ice with his arms draped around the team's medical trainers. It was a scary scene for a player with a history of concussions. But by the time he left the rink later that night, he said, he felt fine. "It's funny, because the concussions that look the worst (players) get rid of real quick and the other ones are the ones that seem to last long,'' Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "So, he was actually fine the next day, but I think it's important that you take time and don't push it.''
Gagne expects to be ready to face Bruins
Tampa Tribune | May 10