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Simon Gagne of Tampa Bay Lightning fights off 'injury-prone' tag

“In 11 years, I’ve had injuries maybe three years,” Lightning left wing Simon Gagne says. “It’s not like I’m hurt every year.”

EDWARD LINSMIER | Times

“In 11 years, I’ve had injuries maybe three years,” Lightning left wing Simon Gagne says. “It’s not like I’m hurt every year.”

BRANDON — Simon Gagne knows he has a reputation for being injury prone.

But the Lightning left wing said if you look at the facts, well, it's just not true.

"I was unlucky the last two years," he said Monday at the Ice Sports Forum after his first pre-training camp skate with his new teammates.

"When you see something happen in a short period of time, you remember that. You don't remember when the player is heathy. In 11 years, I've had injuries maybe three years. It's not like I'm hurt every year."

In fact, Gagne, 30, acquired in July from the Flyers for D Matt Walker, has had three surgeries the past three-plus years.

He had double-hernia surgery after the 2006-07 season, hip surgery after 2008-09 and early last season had surgery to fix groin and abdominal injuries.

He played just 25 games in 2007-08 because of post-concussion syndrome. He played 46 in 2002-03 because of a groin injury and concussion.

On the other hand, in the past three seasons in which Gagne played at least 70 games (2005-06, 2006-07 and 2008-09), the two-time All-Star scored 47, 41 and 34 goals. In fact, he said last season's surgery was done to insure his health this season, Gagne's last in a five-year deal that pays $5.25 million:

"It's the last year of my contract, so to play the whole season and playoffs, you get more points at the end for signing again."

Add that Gagne had 17 goals and 40 points in 58 regular-season games last season, nine goals in 19 playoff games, and says, "I'm feeling young again, almost like it's my first year," in reference to being with Tampa Bay, and things seem positive.

"When I'm healthy, I know what I can do, and I proved it in the playoffs," Gagne said. "But people remember the bad, so I have to work against that to make them forget. I'm looking forward to being healthy all year. I'll touch wood. That's going to be my goal."

Classy move: Gagne said he was willing to wear No. 21 because Ryan Malone had 12. But Malone gave it up and took No. 6, apparently without request for compensation.

"He's done great things with that number," Malone said. "And it was time for a change for myself, I thought, so it was no problem. I just said, with open arms, 'Come join the team.' "

"It showed the class of the guy," Gagne said. "I've heard a lot of great things about him, but just by giving No. 12 away, that just showed the person he is."

Gagne said he always has worn 12 except for the 2002 and 2006 Olympics, when he wore 21 in deference to Jarome Iginla.

"It showed the welcome," Gagne said of Malone's gesture. "I'll try to buy him dinner on the road this year or something."

Road trip: All things being equal, C Steven Stamkos said he would rather be skating, but being summoned to New York by the NHL for a two-day media event isn't bad, either.

"It's a little odd, the timing," said Stamkos, who will join, among others, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. "But you want to help the NHL any way you can."

Odds and ends: Malone said he heard the summer rumors he could be traded for Maple Leafs D Tomas Kaberle but never was asked to waive his no-trade clause. … Malone and wife Abby had their second child (and second boy), Cooper, on April 12. … F Paul Szczechura was married July 10 to longtime girlfriend Sandra Petitto. … Ice Fest is Sept. 28 at the St. Pete Times Forum. … Training camp practices and scrimmages — 10 a.m. to noon Saturday through Monday at the Ice Sports Forum — are free and open to the public. Additional fan events begin 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Go to tampabay.com/blogs/lightning for details.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Simon Gagne of Tampa Bay Lightning fights off 'injury-prone' tag 09/13/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 8:57am]
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