Thursday, February 21, 2008

Holmgren, Gagne react to concussion situation

by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren and forward Simon Gagne addressed the concerns around Gagne's health in a press conference on Thursday.

Gagne was advised on Wednesday to sit out the remainder of the season and any potential playoff rounds, a little more than a week after suffering his third concussion of the year.

"They don't believe it was three different concussions, but that every time I was hit in the head, it came back from the first time," said Gagne about his consultation with concussion expert Dr. James Kelly and his staff in Colorado.

Gagne originally expressed hope that he'd return to the lineup at some point, despite suffering his third concussion in five months in a 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on February 10.

"The best course of action is to take this time to basically relax, Gagne said. "I'm done. I don't think I will be back this year. I don't feel myself now, I get dizzy, off-balance."

The 27-year-old Gagne, who didn't play the final two periods against the Pens, missed 26 games earlier this season with dizziness after taking a hit from Florida's Jay Bouwmeester on October 24.

The 22nd overall selection in the 1998 draft, Gagne has seven goals and 11 assists in 25 games this season. But the story has now taken a dramatic shift, as he becomes the latest member of the Flyers to deal with the fallout of multiple concussions.

Former superstar Eric Lindros, who retired last fall, was among the most notable. Flyers captain Keith Primeau also saw his career come to an abrupt halt in 2006 because of post-concussion syndrome, and Jeremy Roenick suffered a number of concussions with the Flyers, but has been able to resume his career, now skating for the San Jose Sharks.

"I don't think we want to go down that road," Holmgren said when questioned about the team's handling of the situation in light of past experience with Lindros and others. "Hindsight is a wonderful thing. We did what we did."

Gagne has collected 208 goals and 202 assists in 527 career games, all with Philadelphia.

"The effects of the concussions that he's had have left him in a position of vulnerability, and we feel it's best right now that he recover," admitted Holmgren. "Because of the unknowns of concussions, we're just going to be very careful. We think he is a fantastic player, an elite one for our franchise."
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