Gagne's neck injury still a mystery; Downie to play tonight
For Lightning left wing Simon Gagne, his neck injury remains a bit of a mystery.
Gagne, who has missed the last seven games while on injured reserve, said he's feeling better, but is "still not quite where I want to be." Gagne has seen several doctors, including local neurologist Ed Grant, and said the good news was that tests appeared to show there isn't anything wrong with his brain, nor are their symptoms stemming from his last concussion a few years ago. But the hardest part is that he can't pinpoint the exact injury he suffered when he got hit hard into the boards against the Islanders Oct. 21.
"We're still not quite sure what's going on," he said. "That’s why we’re trying to be really careful. We want to make sure we know what we’re dealing with."
Head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan said the next step is a nerve conduction test today to make sure the nerve patterns are properly coming out of the neck. Mulligan said an MRI of Gagne's cervical spine showed some fluid in the back of his neck, but they believe that's from an old injury while Gagne was with Philadelphia, and not a cause for his current symptoms.
For now, Gagne has been riding the stationary bike and getting treatment, hoping to find an answer. He said his neck is still stiff, and Mulligan said there is some vision issues related to Gagne's focus when he's moving his head from one position to another.
"The biggest thing is treating it each day and he's improving," Mulligan said. "That's the good news. The more testing we do, the more we know what it is not. Just continuing to move along." That being said, Mulligan wouldn't rule out Gagne traveling with the team on its upcoming road trip, beginning Thursday.
*Other things from the morning skate.....Steve Downie (back) said he's ready to play and coach Guy Boucher said he will, pointing out how tough it is to keep the winger out of the lineup. “He’s nuts – he’s nuts in a good way,” Boucher said, smiling. “He’s a warrior. He should have never played in L.A. and San Jose. But his phrase is pretty simple, ‘I don’t sit out.’ So I guess unless he’s missing a leg or something else, I’m not allowed to sit him out. That’s all good because you know in the end if we were in those playoffs, he’ll be there to fight through everything that comes his way.”
-- JOE SMITH