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Gagne's return provided Kings with 'extra jump'

Tuesday, 06.05.2012 / 4:22 PM

By Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent / Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

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Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog
Gagne's return provided Kings with 'extra jump'

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It was difficult to tell whether Simon Gagne had the desired impact when he returned to the lineup for the first time in five months.

Gagne played fewer than seven minutes of ice time Monday in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, and Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter wouldn't elaborate on Gagne on Tuesday. Game 4 is Wednesday.

"Well he hadn't played for six months," Sutter said. "He played six minutes. So we'll make that decision tomorrow."

In a stunning move, Sutter activated Gagne in place of Brad Richardson on the fourth line. Gagne had not played since Dec. 26 because of a concussion, but eventually got healthy and, remarkably, became available in late May.

Gagne's teammates were naturally happy to see him return after such a long road back.

"He's been my teammate for a while, and to see him come back from something that didn't look very good for him -- it was a big thing, I think, for our hockey team," Mike Richards said. "It gave us probably a little extra jump to see him in the lineup."

Richards identifies with Gagne, a former Philadelphia Flyers teammate, because Richards also had a concussion in December. Richards only missed eight games and hinted he might have come back too soon. Gagne was out for so long it was thought to be a potentially career-ending concussion.

"A good friend, to come back from an injury like that -- sometimes you don't know with things like that," Richards said. "It was nice to see and I'm sure he enjoyed being on the ice and we definitely enjoyed having him."

By playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Gagne is eligible to get his name engraved on the Cup, although a team can also petition for a player to receive the honor.

Gagne had seven goals and 10 assists in 34 regular season games.

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