EL SEGUNDO, CA — As you walked into the Toyota Sports Center, the practice facility of the Los Angeles Kings in El Segundo, California on Friday morning, there was a strange, yet vaguely familiar sight on the ice.
That was the sight of the number 12 on the back of a jersey during a full practice, something not seen since late December.
Indeed, veteran left wing Simon Gagne, who suffered a concussion back on December 26, 2011, was finally back on the ice with his teammates, skating in a full practice for the first time since suffering the injury.
“I got cleared by the doctors last week, and I’m all good, so all the stuff I had to go though—contact, the impact test, talking to the doctors, all the tests that you have to [undergo] before getting cleared,” he explained. “I did all that before starting [to skate in full practice].”
Gagne, who has been working out on his own, and skating off and on since suffering the injury, has been gradually working his way back to this point, some five months later.
“It’s something that I was looking forward to, to being 100 percent, not 95 percent, not ninety percent, but 100 percent,” said Gagne. “That’s the way we’ve been dealing with the injury since the start. I’m glad to be back on the ice.”
“I got cleared last week, but because it was at the start of the series against Phoenix, it was better for me to stay here, and skate with the Black Aces,” added Gagne. “It was more real practice, with twelve guys on the ice, with two goalies. When a series starts, there’s not too much practice time, it was good for me to stay here, and work on my skating and conditioning, stuff like that.”
From the start, Gagne was not going to rush his comeback, not this time, not after suffering more than one concussion earlier in his career.
“It was a long process, but when I talked to [the media] two or three months ago, I was clear on [the point] that I had to be at 100 percent before coming back,” Gagne stressed. “I was feeling good at the end of the [regular] season, but not good enough. I felt like I was missing a little bit of something, and that’s where you make the mistake of coming back when you’re not 100 percent. [That’s when] you get a little whack, and you’re [set] way back. Then you’re not talking about coming back this year. You’re talking about next season.”
“That’s a mistake I [made] when I was a little younger,” Gagne added. “When you get older, you learn. Now, I’m 100 percent, and I feel really good. That’s why I took as much as time as I [needed].”
But spending all that time on the sidelines is rough for any player because they are not part of the normal routine for the team. As such, it makes it difficult to feel as they are a part of the team.
Despite that, Gagne has muddled through.
“It is hard,” he noted. “It’s the best time of the season. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first round, the second round, or the Finals. But I’m around. I’ve been around since the start, even during the season. I didn’t go back home. I stayed here the whole time, I’ve been there for every home game.”
“Just being there, talking to the boys, having had the experience of being there before, talking to them a little bit about what I’ve been through, that just makes you feel like you’re a part of it,” he added. “I’d rather be on the ice, but at this point, it’s different, for sure.”
Although Gagne is back to 100 percent, he has not played in a game since December 26, and only practiced with the team for the first time today. As such, no one should expect him to return to the lineup anytime soon, not just because he has to be awfully rusty, but also because there is no reason for the Kings to make a lineup change of that magnitude at this time.
Raw Audio Interview with Simon Gagne, May 25, 2012
(3:33; Extraneous material and dead air have been removed):
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