Simon Gagne doesn’t know when he might be able to play again, but the Kings winger is making progress. There are no certainties when it comes to the recovery from a concussion, as Gagne knows all too well.
Gagne has been out of the lineup since Dec. 26, when he hit his head on the end boards in a game against Phoenix. Gagne, who has a history of concussion issues during his 12-season NHL career, did very little physical activity in the first six weeks after the injury, raising fears that Gagne might be lost for the season.
Slowly, Gagne has been feeling better, and last Friday he got on the ice at the Kings’ training facility for a 25-minute skate. After two days off, Gagne skated again on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
There is no timetable for Gagne’s possible return, but on Wednesday, he expressed encouragement.
``I’m still far away from playing a game,’’ Gagne said, ``but at least I’m on the ice and I’m able to work on my skills and get the feeling of the ice, stuff like that. So that’s a good thing. It’s better than just riding the bike.’’
``I’m working on it. I’ve got some exercises to do, from the doctor, for my balance and stuff like that. I’m able to work on that, and slowly I’m starting to see some improvements, so that’s a good thing.’’
Gagne, a former two-time 40-goal scorer in Philadelphia, signed a two-year contract with the Kings last summer and had seven goals and 10 assists in 34 games this season before the concussion.
Gagne said he will continue to do conditioning skating and off-ice exercises as long as he feels good enough, and won’t push himself, in terms of hockey drills, until he feels he is in shape. And, in general, Gagne said he won’t be overly ambitious and put himself at risk for another injury.
``I’ll be 32 years old at the end of this month, and I’ve got two kids,’’ Gagne said. ``I remember my first one in the league, and you don’t think about that stuff. You just want to get back on the ice. You don’t think too much about your future. Who knows, on those others [concussions] maybe I should have taken more time. I was trying to get back as soon as possible. Not that I’m not trying to do that now. I’m trying to get back as soon as possible, but at 100 percent.
``The other ones, maybe I was just coming back when I was good enough to go back and play. Who knows? When we find out those answers, I’ll be way gone, but at least you start to see some improvement from the doctors’ standpoint, and the way they treat those injuries now. The doctors and the training staff here, they do a really good job. I’m really impressed by that. But you do think about your future, and that’s why when I come back now -- maybe because I’m older, and when you get older you get smarter -- I’ll come back at 100 percent. That’s going to be for sure this time.’’
WILLIAMS: DEADLINE TALK `A CIRCUS’
In the days leading up to the Feb. 27 trade deadline, the Kings will naturally see their name attached to many players in trade discussions. The Kings, the lowest-scoring team in the NHL, are known to be in the market for forwards and have the salary-cap room necessary to add a top player, such as Columbus’ Rick Nash or Jeff Carter, should there be a trade fit.
In the locker room, though, trade talks often bring more anxiety than excitement. Kings winger Justin Williams, who has been traded twice in his career -- from Philadelphia to Carolina in 2004, and from Carolina to the Kings in 2009 -- said he does his best to ignore external trade discussions.
``The media has everything hyped up,’’ Williams said. ``It’s the same as it always was, but the media has everything hyped up like it’s some sort of national holiday. These are our lives we’re dealing with, our jobs, and it has kind of turned into a circus a little bit, with rumor websites and people talking. But it’s still the same for us. I’ve learned, throughout my time, not to go on any of those websites.
``I don’t even look at stat sheets before a game. You just try to steer clear, and focus on your game. If you start focusing on, `My name is floating around,’ or, `We’re trying to do something at the trade deadline,’ you need to stop. It’s not going to impact you positively.’’