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Tampa Bay Lightning's Simon Gagne 'very probable' for next game, coach says

TAMPA — Lightning coach Guy Boucher said it is "very probable" Simon Gagne will play Wednesday against the Rangers. But the left wing, out 15 games with a strained neck, did not want to commit.

"I don't want to say," he said after Monday's skate with the team. "If I said one day and I end up not playing, I might disappoint a lot of people. I would disappoint my teammates. They have been pretty good with me right now.

"They ask me every day when I'm going to play. If I say Wednesday and I don't, it's not something we need right now."

The two-time 40-goal scorer said he still has muscle and nerve inflammation at the back of the right side of his neck. He said the mysterious pressure that travels to his forehead, which he admitted was why he did not play Saturday in Buffalo, has lessened but is not gone.

The pressure is not constant, Gagne said, only after strenuous workouts. Treatment includes chiropractic work to relax the muscles and increase blood flow, said head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan, who added additional testing over the weekend did not reveal anything new.

"We've pretty much exhausted all diagnostic options," he said. "Everything we've been doing has been focused on restoring his neck motion, nothing different."

Asked if he was sick of tests, Gagne said, "A little bit, yeah. It's been a bit more than a week since I've been skating. I feel like it's been a month. You'd rather play than be in my position. … It's not something I thought was going to take this long."

WIND WORRIES: Boucher said Gagne "looks great" on the ice but "his timing is going to be an issue when he comes back. But he'll be in shape."

Especially after last week, during which strength and conditioning coach Chuck Lobe worked Gagne hard on the ice.

"He did push me, but he was smart," Gagne said. "We tried to put myself as if I was playing a game, to start and go quick, and not just skating around the ice."

IN MEMORY: There was a moment of silence before the game to honor former NHL coach Pat Burns, a Port Charlotte resident and a regular in the St. Pete Times Forum press box, who died last week of cancer at 58.

Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk, who played for Burns in Toronto and Boston, said Burns came to terms with dying after stopping treatment.

"He was enjoying life," Andreychuk said. "I've seen him quite a few times over the years, and that's the happiest I've seen him, trying to enjoy life and knowing it was going to come to an end eventually."

Burns also coached the Canadiens and led the Devils to the 2003 Stanley Cup.

ODDS AND ENDS: Chris Kontos had been the quickest Lightning to 20 goals (27 games in 1992-93). … C Vinny Lecavalier had a light cast removed from the surgically repaired big knuckle of his right index finger but is expected out at least another three weeks. … LW Mattias Ritola was eligible after a two-game suspension for a from-behind hit on the Islanders' Matt Moulson. But Boucher went with seven defensemen and 11 forwards, and Ritola was scratched. … Sun Sports' Inside the Lightning features D Pavel Kubina at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Tampa Bay Lightning's Simon Gagne 'very probable' for next game, coach says 11/22/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 23, 2010 12:28am]
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