Erik Erlendsson covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Tampa Tribune.
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Gagne practices with the Lightning
Posted Nov 16, 2010 by Erik Erlendsson
Updated Nov 16, 2010 at 02:55 PM
BRANDON - Injured left wing Simon Gagne returned to practice Tuesday, but is not quite ready to return to the lineup.
Gagne has been out since Oct. 22 with a strain in his neck suffered when he hit neck first into the boards on Oct. 21. He has undergone several tests since then to try to pinpoint the nature of some minor vision issues he was encountering when he would turn his head from side-to-side.
The final determination, Gagne said, was some swelling in the back of his neck constricted blood flow, which the medical staff believes caused the vision issues.
Gagne has been skating since Saturday, but Tuesday was his first time participating in practice. While he was not scheduled to accompany the team for a three-game road trip that begins Wednesday at the New York Islanders, he may fly to Buffalo to skate with the team Saturday morning prior to Saturday night’s game against the Sabres.
“It’s getting there,” Gagne said. “The game shape isn’t there, but overall I think I’m getting better every day. I’m getting treatment for my neck and I’ve seen a lot of improvement in that. I’m getting better every day and I’m doing extra work every day, too.
“So (practice) was a good test to skate with the boys. It’s one thing to skate by yourself compared to having guys skate around you, that’s different, so it’s good to see how I felt with that.”
There remains no set timetable for Gagne, acquired from Philadelphia over the summer, to get back in the lineup, but at his current rate of improvement, it appears to be sooner rather than later.
“To see Simon is one thing, to see him practice this good, that’s real encouraging, he looked great out there,” head coach Guy Boucher said. “You could see that he had something before, because today he was flying out there. So he’s slowly getting better and it’s an uplift for the entire team.”
A two-time 40-goal scorer, Gagne is expected to provide offense to a team that has scored just 13 goals in the past seven games.