WASHINGTON — When Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier saw teammate and good friend Simon Gagne lying motionless on the ice in Friday's first period against the Capitals, it was a difficult moment.
"It was very scary," he said.
Gagne, who has a history of concussions, had his head hit the ice and appeared to briefly lose consciousness after a check into the boards by Capitals defenseman Scott Hannan just over seven minutes into Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal.
Gagne was helped off the ice and didn't return to the game. He will be re-evaluated today, as will defenseman Pavel Kubina, who was knocked out of the game with two minutes left in the second when his head hit the glass on a check by Jason Chimera, who was called for roughing.
The Lightning believe Gagne's injury could have been much worse.
"(Gagne) said he was all right as he left the ice," center Steven Stamkos said. "So we just said, 'Let's do this one for Gags.' For him to go down, it's tough, but other guys stepped up."
Gagne was racing to a puck in the corner of the Washington zone, with Hannan giving chase, and the Capitals defenseman checked him cleanly into the boards. But Gagne flipped into a prone position in the air, and Hannan shoved him to the ice. Gagne hit the ice on his left shoulder, then his head bounced off it.
Gagne stayed down for several minutes, talking but not moving, as head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan attended to him and a stretcher was brought out. But Gagne was able to stand up with help and skated off the ice with Mulligan and assistant athletic trainer Mike Poirier holding him under each arm.
Hannan approached Gagne before he was taken away and tapped Gagne's pads with his stick.
"The puck went into the corner, and we both went in," Hannan said. "I hit him. I didn't even think it was that bad. I guess he fell on his shoulder and his head. You never want to see a guy hurt like that."
Gagne was evaluated by team doctors Ira Guttentag, Stan Watkins and Chuck Slonim. The league's new concussion protocol, in which players who take head shots are put in a dark room for 15 minutes for observation, apparently was followed for Gagne and Kubina.
Gagne called his wife after leaving the game, Canada's TSN TV network said.
The left wing missed most of the 2007-08 season with the Flyers because of two concussions, and he had at least one other concussion earlier in his career.
Gagne missed 18 games because of a nerve injury this season. The Lightning believed a scar-tissue mass in the muscles in the back of his neck at least contributed to it. Gagne has received intermittent treatments for the scar tissue.
Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]