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Tampa Bay Lightning's Simon Gagne says he'll overcome slow start

New Lightning Simon Gagne has had an emotional move from Philly, scoring woes and a stiff neck. Oh, and a baby is on the way.

DIRK SHADD | Times

New Lightning Simon Gagne has had an emotional move from Philly, scoring woes and a stiff neck. Oh, and a baby is on the way.

BRANDON — In a couple of months, Simon Gagne said, all that is going on in his life — the emotional upheaval of leaving a city he called home for 11 years, another injury, that he has zero goals and zero points in his first six games — will seem "a little tiny moment in a long season."

For now, though, the Lightning left wing said he understands it can seem like "a nightmare."

"It looks big now because it's in the present," he said Monday at the Ice Sports Forum. "But I'm sure, when I sit and talk to you in December and January, it's just going to be so small in the season. It's going to be a lot better at that moment."

Until then, though, Gagne has to deal with the present, including a team-worst minus-8, and a stiff neck that kept him out of two straight games and likely Wednesday's with the Penguins.

But there is more picking at Gagne, 30, not the least of which is he admittedly still is transitioning from 11 years with the Flyers, a team he did not want to leave but traded him and his $5.25 million salary for cap space.

Gagne also played into June as the Flyers reached the Stanley Cup final. "And I'm not going to lie to you," he said, "every season when you're getting older, it's harder to start your legs."

Add emotional games in Montreal, in Gagne's home province of Quebec, and Philadelphia, where he got a standing ovation, and that wife Karine is due in February with their second child, and you have a conglomerate of pressures and diversions.

"It's tough to have all that change in your life, your family," teammate Vinny Lecavalier said. "It takes a little bit of time to get adjusted. But I know he loves the guys here, and he loves hockey and loves being at the rink."

Lightning coach Guy Boucher, with a degree in sports psychology, said, "The three top things in terms of stress level are mortality with you and your family, moving and changing jobs. He's got two of the top three. And on top of that, he's got an injury."

Gagne was hurt Thursday when checked into the side boards by the Islanders' Michael Grabner. He said it is healing slower than hoped.

It also is a reminder that injuries significantly shortened two of Gagne's past five seasons.

"But the team is winning, and that's what you want," Gagne said. "The goal here is to have a good start as a team, not having a good start for Simon Gagne. If I had six goals and we're 0-6, that's what we don't want to see."

Still, he admitted, "It's frustrating. When you don't score the first three games, you start getting into your head and you start thinking a little too much. The next three games I had some chances, and the puck didn't want to go in.

"It's hard, but at the same time, you have to focus on getting better."

Tampa Bay, with eight of its 27 goals from Steven Stamkos, could use another scorer. And Gagne, who only twice in his career endured points droughts longer than six games, is playing for a new contract.

Gagne said he is "very confident" that when healthy "good things are going to happen," and "I'll find a way to score goals."

"It's all adaptation," he added. "I'm used to the leaves a little bit on the floor, get a little jacket on. It's new to me. Being perfect and feeling good, it's going to take time. It's a process, and it's going to be a process all year long. But the worst is behind me."

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

Tampa Bay Lightning's Simon Gagne says he'll overcome slow start 10/25/10 [Last modified: Monday, October 25, 2010 11:42pm]

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