Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Lightning's Simon Gagne settled in and in a groove

TAMPA — Simon Gagne finally feels at home.

The Lightning left wing didn't believe it would take this long. Oh, he knew it wouldn't be easy. You don't leave a team and a community after 11 seasons and simply turn a page.

But that it took until January for Gagne and his family to really settle in blindsided him.

"I figured I had the whole summer to get over it," Gagne said Thursday of July's trade from the Flyers. "But it was hard on me."

It is easier to talk about now.

Gagne, a two-time 40-goal scorer, has nine goals and 15 points in 34 games. But in what is his best stretch of the season, he has six goals and eight points in his past nine games, and three goals and five points in his past three.

His line with center Vinny Lecavalier and right wing Teddy Purcell is clicking, too. "It's fun to play hockey now," Gagne said.

Compare that with the 18 games Gagne missed from Oct. 22 through Nov. 27 because of a neck injury and how his conditioning suffered because of it.

Then there was the pressure of relocating wife Karine and son Matthew, 1, from Voorhees, N.J., a community Gagne said his family loved. Not to mention the pressure Gagne felt to break his ties to the Flyers, the only NHL team for which he had played.

That Karine is pregnant with their second child, a daughter expected in two weeks who will be named Lily Rose, didn't make it easier. There were worries about finding a new doctor and new friends.

"So there were a lot of things," Gagne said. "You try to leave that stuff at home when you come to the rink, but this one was a little bit tougher because there was a child involved.

"Now we have our doctors. We know all the people we need to know. We feel very at home. It's definitely helping on the ice."

It helps he is back in game shape. Now instead of being able to go hard for 10 seconds, Gagne said he can go for more than 30. Now instead of being jammed at the blue line by opposing defensemen, he can go around them.

"The big difference is my legs, my speed and my legs," Gagne said. "They feel a lot stronger, and they don't get tired as quick."

"He's healthy," Purcell said. "And because of that, his legs are going. He's getting to a lot of pucks, and because of that, he's getting more chances. He's a guy who knows where to go on the ice, and he's getting rewarded because he's such a smart player."

But the rewards took time. Before his current streak began Jan. 12 against the Capitals, whom Tampa Bay faces tonight, Gagne went 11 games and 26 shots without a goal.

"I felt like I would never score again," he said. "Goalies were making save after save. But it only took one to go in. After that, your confidence starts to build."

"There was just a lot to manage," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said of Gagne's move. "It was a lot more complex than for another person who didn't have all these issues. The reality is, when you deal with more than normal circumstances, you don't have normal responses. Everything was there for him to take a long time to find his game."

Now that he has, "I want to finish strong," Gagne said. "I want to be at the top when the playoffs come. It's feeling pretty good."

It feels like home.

Smith clears: Goal Mike Smith cleared waivers and will be assigned to AHL Norfolk by the end of the weekend.

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

Tampa Bay Lightning's Simon Gagne settled in and in a groove 02/03/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 3, 2011 10:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For starters: Rays at Rangers, with Erasmo on the mound again

    Blogs

    Coming off Sunday's 6 1/2-hour, 15-inning marathon win over the Twins, the Rays will have the pitcher who finished that game, Erasmo Ramirez, start tonight's game in Texas, first pitch 8:05 Tampa Bay time.

    Ramirez threw only 12 pitches on Sunday so the Rays decided to let him make his planned start tonight, …

  2. USF baseball heads to Gainesville for regional play

    Sports

    TAMPA — Had USF's players and coaches been less confident in their NCAA Tournament resume, Monday's selection show might have induced fidgeting, perhaps even frustration.

    South Florida coach Mark Kingston looks on during 2017 American Athletic Conference game Tuesday, May 23, 2017 in Clearwater during the American Athletic Conference. The Bulls won 7-6.
  3. Rays call up Jose De Leon to add depth to bullpen tonight

    Blogs

    The Rays decided that after playing 15 innings Sunday they could use some depth and length in their bullpen after all and are calling up RHP Jose De Leon from Triple-A.

    The Rays have recalled Jose De Leon from Triple-A Durham.
  4. Tiger Woods arrested in Florida on DUI charge, released

    Public Safety

    Tiger Woods was arrested early Monday on a DUI charge in Jupiter, Florida, and spent nearly four hours in a county jail before he was released.

    Tiger Woods has been arrested on a DUI charge in Florida.
  5. After state, academics will trump athletics for King ace Brian Lee

    Baseballpreps

    TAMPA — Brian Lee can still see himself on the pitcher's mound at Venice High School. Four years ago he was a freshman left-handed reliever just trying to keep King's state championship dreams alive.

    Pitcher Brian Lee participates in a practice at King High in Tampa, Fla., on Friday, May 26, 2017.