WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Simon Gagne knows all about comebacks.
Four years ago the forward earned his spot on the Boston Bruins short list of villains when he scored the goal that capped one of the greatest comebacks in Stanley Cup Playoffs history for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Now he's ready to take the next step in his comeback after a season out of the NHL, and the Bruins are hoping he can spark their comeback after a 1-3-0 start to the regular season.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli signed Gagne to a one-year contract worth a cap charge of $600,000 on Tuesday. Gagne is expected to make his Bruins debut Wednesday on the road against the Detroit Red Wings (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
Now Gagne just has to find his role.
"I don't know. Like my conversation with Peter was whatever it takes. I'll be whatever," Gagne said after the Bruins practiced at Ristuccia Arena on Tuesday. "If I have to be the extra guy, if I have to be on the fourth line or a guy that will replace some guys when things are not going well, or injuries, playing the PK, power play, whatever it takes. I'm here to help the team win and I'm really happy that I have a chance to get back into the League with a good team. So I'm open to everything."
Gagne had seasons of 47 and 41 goals in his younger days with Philadelphia. He helped the Flyers reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2010, including the clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, where the Flyers became the third team ever to rally from 3-0 down in a best-of-7 series.
Gagne later played for the Tampa Bay Lightning, earned a Stanley Cup ring with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and then returned to the Flyers. When contract negotiations to play with the Flyers last season fell through, he decided the best thing to do was sit out the season. Over the summer, Gagne and his representatives put feelers out for a return to the NHL and the Bruins seemed like the best fit. Gagne said he had a positive talk with coach Claude Julien around the time the Bruins invited him to camp as a tryout, so Gagne had faith that Boston would give him a fair chance.
The Bruins' proximity to the NHL salary-cap ceiling prevented them from signing Gagne until a couple moves were made and management and the coaching staff got a chance to see some other players. Chiarelli convinced Gagne to stick around for another week and Gagne's decision to do so has paid off.
To make room for Gagne on the roster, the Bruins on Tuesday assigned forwards Jordan Caron and Bobby Robins to Providence of the American Hockey League. Robins started the season as the right wing on Boston's fourth line and Caron replaced him for the Bruins' loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Monday. Gagne practiced in that spot Tuesday with center Ryan Spooner, 22, and left wing Daniel Paille, 30, who's the only holdover on that line from last season.
If Gagne, Spooner and Paille stick together, it'll give the Bruins a much different look on their fourth line than in the past when Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton, who's now with the Florida Panthers, made that line successful through grit and physicality.
"I think we're all smart enough around here to know that, right?" Julien said. "Spooner is not Campbell and Gagne, for example, is not Thornton. So right there you have two guys that probably have more speed and more skill right now. A different kind of a look, but that doesn't mean we don't want that other look right now either. Right now we're looking at that and you hope that they can hold their own. You've got two experienced guys on each side and you got a young guy that has a lot of potential in the middle. So we've got to see how that turns out."
The Bruins, who were third in the League in goals last season, have scored four goals in four games. Gagne's pedigree as a scorer should come in handy regardless of the line he's on. But he might have to adapt his approach to the game based on his role.
"If I'm on the fourth line, I don't want to say you have to play a different role, but you definitely are not there for scoring goals but you're there to not get scored on and try to bring some energy, try to spend time in their zone and try tipping the momentum," Gagne said. "So I think that's something, now that I got the experience playing on different lines in the past, I know what you have to bring on different lines, so I'm capable of bringing different aspects. And if I have to play on the fourth line [Wednesday], we'll try to bring some offense. That's something we need to bring right now. Maybe shoot more pucks at the net and try to create something. But at the same time, our goal is not getting scored on and play well defensively."
Gagne's addition is the latest change to a Bruins lineup that has been in more flux in one week of this season than it has been in several years. Campbell and center David Krejci have missed time with injuries and Spooner, Caron, Robins, Craig Cunningham and Seth Griffith have all tried to earn full-time jobs. Basically, the competition from training camp hasn't ended even with regular-season games starting up.
Julien isn't concerned about the instability holding the Bruins back.
"Those things happen sometimes. You know every coach would like things to be smooth, but it's not reality," Julien said. "Some years you've got a bigger challenge than others. And that's what I'm facing right now is, what we are as a matter of fact as an organization facing, seeing where certain guys fit and also giving them time to fit in. So you know you've got to balance these things out, and what we don't want to do right now is panic because of our record. We want to fix our game, but we don't want to panic on our view of what we're trying to accomplish here as an organization."