Flyers concede it's a concussion Simon Gagne had shown symptoms since a hit last week.

Posted: November 15, 2007

Flyers forward Simon Gagne has a concussion.

Gagne made that announcement yesterday after practice. He has been exhibiting classic concussion symptoms since last Thursday, a day after he was hit by Penguins winger Gary Roberts in Pittsburgh.

The Flyers had not used the word concussion until yesterday, when general manager Paul Holmgren said team physician Gary Dorshimer called him.

Gagne originally was found to have a concussion by the Panthers' team doctor Oct. 24, when he took a hit in the jaw from Jay Bouwmeester in Florida. He returned for the Flyers' Nov. 5 game.

"I talked to [Dorshimer] Sunday about concussions and mild concussions, but today was the day I got a call from Gary, and he said it was a mild concussion."

The Flyers had tested Gagne for a number of illnesses and concluded he was severely dehydrated.

"But now he is more hydrated and continues to have mild symptoms," Holmgren said. "We've treated this as we were all along, like this was a concussion. We just didn't say the word because we didn't want to get into all the other protocols, I guess, more than anything."

Former captain Keith Primeau, who was forced to retire in September 2006 by post-concussion syndrome, has been advising Gagne.

"Someone who has never had a concussion has a hard time understanding," Gagne said. "I tell him how I feel, and he understands me. That helps me see where I am at. He told me to make sure I'm 100 percent before I come back.

"We know what happened to him, and he doesn't want to see this happen to me."

Primeau still suffers from post-concussion syndrome.

"What I told Simon was, 'No one can tell you how you feel except yourself,' " Primeau said. " 'If you tell them you can play, they believe you. You need to use better judgment and take yourself out of harm's way.'

"I said, 'Simon, trust me when I tell you that in the short term, missing some games might seem painful, but in the long run, you will appreciate what you did.' . . . I will never be the same. I have damaged my brain."

After talking to Primeau, Gagne said, he realizes that a head injury is very different from other injuries and that a player cannot play unless 100 percent healthy.

"This is something we need to be careful with," Gagne said. "It's not a groin injury. It is something I have come to realize. . . . I need to be smart."

Yesterday, Gagne, 27, played the Flyers' version of Whack-a-Mole. He had to press a button every time a light on a board came on. He was tested for responses during one-minute sessions.

Gagne still suffers from dizziness and has a new symptom - pressure in the head.

"I've had concussions before . . . and I had pressure in the head," Gagne said. "Right now, I don't feel like myself."

Holmgren said the Flyers did not try to mislead reporters, who were calling the injury a concussion anyway.

"Initially, we wouldn't say it, because first of all, we didn't know for sure, and secondly, I wasn't aware of the repercussions," Holmgren said. "I was under the assumption, like a lot of people, if he's got a mild concussion, he's got to be out seven days. That's not the case. That's the sidebar to this.

"There's been no deception on our part, and I apologize for the confusion."

Primeau told Gagne there were alternative treatments for concussions, and he has offered to help. Gagne said he was prepared to sit out a month.

Holmgren said, "We'll do whatever it takes. We won't put Simon at risk. From the initial thing in Florida, when Simon came back from that, we treated that like it was a concussion, and he had no symptoms at rest or in an exercise period.

"He wanted to play. Obviously, we wanted him to play. Did we push him back too soon? Hindsight is a great thing. Maybe we did. We would like to believe we did not give him enough practice time to get himself ready. This time, we will make sure he is absolutely 100 percent symptom-free and passes all tests he needs to pass and gets serious practice time in."

Gagne admitted that he should not have played without proper conditioning after the hit in Florida.

"I'm losing my cardio and game conditioning," he said. "I need to get that back. I will need at least four to five practices just for that."

Loose pucks. Winger Sami Kapanen, who has a torn ligament in his right knee, skated on his own and wanted to play tonight against the New York Rangers. Kapanen had problems with his brace, which needs adjusting. Flyers coach John Stevens said Kapanen would not play.

Contact staff writer Tim Panaccio at 215-854-2847 or tpanaccio@phillynews.com.

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