If it weren’t for Simon Gagne’s long and storied history of injuries, Scribe would be joining my cow in it’s journey over the moon instead of simmering slowly like a kabob about to burn on the spit. Simon’s propensity for frailty is certainly nothing to ignore, but let us examine exactly what these injuries were. As we know, there are several types of injury prone players. You have your unfortunates, like our own Justin Williams, who seems to have a knack for accumulating every type of injury possible. You’ve got your naggers, such as Adam Deadmarsh who had as much trouble passing up a good concussion like an alcoholic trying to avoid happy hour. Then you’ve got your wear and tearers, a la Ryan Smyth who play a style of game that will inevitably lead to a series of injuries lest they replace their bones with titanium and their muscles with rubber. So where does the Kings’ prize of 2011 free agency fall?
Let’s take a look. In reverse chronological order, here is a list of Gagne’s injuries throughout the years. Remember that this list can’t be viewed purely based on a cursory glance of it’s length. Being as it is ultra specific, each injury takes up 2 or more lines: 1 for the injury suffered and 1 for the number of games missed as a result. As we immediately see, some injuries take up 4 lines or more as the player tried to return to action early, only to hop right back out of the lineup due to the same malady.
2011/05/14 Missed 3 playoff games (head injury).
2011/05/01 Head injury, day-to-day.
2011/03/22 Missed 1 game (pinched nerve in neck).
2011/03/19 Pinched nerve in neck, day-to-day.
2010/11/30 Missed 18 games (neck injury).
2010/10/26 Neck injury, injured reserve.
2010/10/22 Neck injury, day-to-day.
2010/05/07 Missed 4 games (right foot surgery).
2010/04/21 Right foot surgery, sidelined indefinitely.
2009/12/19 Missed 24 games (hernias in right groin).
2009/10/27 Hernias in right groin, sidelined indefinitely.
2009/01/06 Missed 2 games (shoulder injury).
2008/12/31 Shoulder injury, day-to-day.
2008/10/24 Missed 1 game (flu).
2008/10/22 Flu, day-to-day.
2008/05/18 Missed the last 27 games of the regular season and all 17 playoff games (concussion).
2008/02/20 Concussion, remainder of the regular season.
2008/02/12 Mild concussion, sidelined indefinitely.
2008/02/10 Mild concussion, left Sunday’s game.
2008/01/10 Missed 26 games (dizzyness).
2007/11/08 Dizzyness, sidelined indefinitely.
2007/11/05 Missed 4 games (dizzyness).
2007/10/25 Dizzyness, day-to-day.
2007/03/24 Missed 6 games (groin).
2007/03/11 Groin, day-to-day.
2006/03/06 Missed 3 games (bruised knee).
2006/02/22 Bruised knee, day-to-day.
2006/02/10 Missed 1 game (stomach virus).
2006/02/08 Stomach virus, day-to-day.
2006/01/02 Missed 1 game (flu).
2005/12/31 Flu, day-to-day.
2005/12/22 Missed 5 games (groin).
2005/12/09 Groin, late December.
2003/11/08 Leg injury, left Saturday’s game (Didn’t miss any games).
2003/10/25 Missed 2 games (bruised right shoulder).
2003/10/21 Bruised right shoulder, day-to-day.
2003/04/01 Missed 13 games (groin).
2003/03/08 Groin, sidelined indefinitely.
2003/03/07 Groin, left Friday’s game.
2003/03/07 Missed 13 games (groin).
2003/03/02 Groin, day-to-day.
2003/02/05 Groin, late February.
2003/02/04 Groin, left Tuesday’s game.
2003/02/04 Missed 3 games (groin).
2003/01/25 Groin, day-to-day.
2003/01/24 Groin, left Friday’s game.
2003/01/07 Missed 5 games (cut above right eyebrow/concussion).
2003/01/05 Cut above right eyebrow/concussion, day-to-day.
2002/12/28 Cut above right eyebrow, day-to-day.
2002/12/27 Cut on forehead, left Friday’s game.
2002/12/02 Missed 2 games (abdominal injury).
2002/11/28 Abdominal injury, day-to-day.
2002/04/17 Missed the last game of the regular season (virus).
2002/04/14 Virus, day-to-day.
2002/01/08 Missed 2 games (shoulder injury).
2002/01/02 Shoulder injury, day-to-day.
2001/03/24 Missed 12 games (left shoulder subluxation).
2001/02/25 Left shoulder subluxation, late March.
2001/02/22 Missed 1 game (back injury).
2001/02/19 Back injury, day-to-day.
The one that jumps out is the concussion. In the 2007-2008 season, Gagne missed a total of 57 games due to a concussion and it’s symptoms (dizziness), as well as all 17 playoff games the Flyers played. He had one concussion earlier in his career, in 2003. Concussions are worrisome, however two concussions separated by 4 years is hardly a reason to suspect Gagne will suffer the same fate as Adam Deadmarsh.
The other injury, and to me the more disconcerting one, is to his groin. He missed 29 games in 2003 as a result of a groin injury and another 24 games in 2009 after having surgery for a hernia. When we consider the type of game Gagne plays – the speed, turn on a dime skating game – the groin jumps out as something to be worried about. While Gagne plays hard and isnt afraid to hit or be hit, he doesn’t play the smash mouth game where concussions and broken bones are as likely as the sun is to set in the West. We saw it with Alexander Frolov where groin injuries either sidelined the player or diminished his effectiveness regularly. Or worse yet, Gaborik, whose groin is about as vital as a heart attack. One difference however, is that a guy like Frolov apparently had trouble reporting his injuries, preferring to ignore them and play through them rather than subject himself to surgery and miss bundles of games. This does not seem to be the case with Gagne, who after getting two medical opinions in 2009, opted to have surgery mid season to repair his hernia (according to Wikipedia). The result? No groin problems for the season and a half since the surgery.
The rest of the injuries are scattered. Getting sick, neck injury, foot surgery, pinched nerve, hurt leg, shoulder injury. The shoulder is the only one that has popped up with any regularity, though it has never caused Gagne to miss more than just a few games. 12 games early on his career and from then on, just a nag here or there that saw him miss less than a week of action.
Ultimately it seems that Gagne has had two major injuries in his career. The hernia in 09-10 and the concussion in 07-08. Neither have cropped up as problems since. In my estimation, what we have here is another in the mold of Justin Williams. A guy who has been playing for a long time and as a result of being unlucky, has sustained his share of minor injuries and a couple of really bad ones. This is not a case of the Deadmash’s, this is not Gaborik symptom, the Flyer we signed is not Eric Lindros.
If Gagne does sustain injury in the upcoming season, though no one will be surprised, it likely will be out of left field as opposed to the old ‘well no shit, it was only a matter of time before that happened’. My guess? He played 68-75 games.
So King fans, does this make you feel better or worse? Bobby, have I eased or added to your woes?