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Tampa Bay Lightning gets some good news as Simon Gagne practices with team



The recovery of Simon Gagne took a big step on Tuesday as the Tampa Bay Lightning's injured left wing skated with the team for the first time since sustaining a neck injury Oct. 21 against the Islanders.

After practice, coach Guy Boucher poked his head in the locker room at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon and said, "I don't know how he feels, but he looked great." He added to that sentiment when he met with reporters later.

"To see Simon is one thing. To see him practice this good, that's really encouraging," Boucher said. "He looked great out there. He was flying, so he's certainly getting better. That's uplifting for the entire team."

"In game shape I'm not quite there, but overall I'm getting there," said Gagne, who had skated by himself three times before. "I'm getting better every day. Today was a good test, skating with the boys. It's one thing to skate by yourself, but having guys skating around you, it's a little bit different. It was good to see how I feel with that."

Gagne and the team have consistently said his injury is not a concussion, though he has had vision issues. After extensive testing, the team said, the injury was narrowed to muscle and nerve inflammation in the back of his neck which constricted blood flow to the head. The manifestation was blurry vision when he moved is head quickly from side to side. That is why the practice with his teammates and with the puck moving was so important. Gagne said he was not 100 percent but said, "I feel good about myself."

Gagne hasn't played since he was checked into the side boards by New York's Michael Grabner. But Gagne said that hit was just the straw that broke the camel's back. he said he had been feeling out of sorts since a hard check from Calgary defenseman Mark Giordano in a Sept. 25 preseason game. Gagne stayed in that game and scored in Tampa Bay's 5-4 shootout loss.

"The doctor said he believes this is not from one injury, but it might be from an accumulation," Gagne said. "I got hit pretty hard in Calgary, head first, face first. I wasn't feeling the same on the ice, but it's early in the season and you're like, 'Maybe I have to get my legs back.' So, the one in Calgary was one and the one (against) New York was the one that jammed everything and got those symptoms. But after the hit (in Calgary), I was like, 'I got hit pretty hard. I hope I'm going to be okay,' but everything was fine."

Gagne did not go with the team on its three-game road trip that begins Wednesday on Long Island, and he said there is no timetable for his return.

"We want to make sure everything is 100 percent," he said. "Every day is getting better. I'm having my treatment here. I'm on the ice getting myself back in shape, so that's a plus. ... I just need to get better."       

[Last modified: Thursday, December 16, 2010 12:15am]


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