CALGARY – A groin injury has forced Simon Gagne to make an early exit from Team Canada’s orientation camp.
The Philadelphia Flyers forward left camp Tuesday after sustaining a mild strain to his right groin during Monday’s practice.
“Simon will fly back to Philadelphia today and be examined by Flyers team orthopedic physician Peter DeLuca tomorrow afternoon,” Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said in a statement.
Canadian coach Mike Babcock said sending Gagne back to Philadelphia was a precautionary measure to make sure the injury isn’t too serious.
“He’s going back to see his own doctor, which we think is really important just to compare the last time the doctor saw him,” said Babcock, noting that Hockey Canada won’t replace him with another forward. “We don’t want to put anybody behind the eight ball and bring him in late and give him an unfair opportunity.”
Flyers captain and fellow Team Canada hopeful Mike Richards said he talked to Gagne before he left the camp, which features 46 players vying for a spot on the 2010 Olympic team.
“I think he had a little bit of soreness, so he went to go back and see the doctors and make sure he was ready for the beginning of the season,” Richards said. “Obviously he still wants to be here but I think the most important (thing) is him getting better and kind of working towards the beginning of the year.”
Richards said that Gagne was definitely disappointed to leave Canada’s camp early.
“He wants to be here and it’s kind of paining him to go back home, but at the same time he’s got to be ready for the beginning of the year,” Richards said of Gagne, who recently underwent off-season surgery to repair scar tissue and a bone spur in his right hip. “That’s what the organization wants. I’d like my winger to be healthy too. Hopefully he gets back and it’s not too bad.”
Gagne played for Canada at the past two Winter Olympics, helping Canada win gold in 2002 in Salt Lake City. He has collected two goals and five assists in 12 Olympic games.
During the first day of the orientation camp, the native of Ste-Foy, Que., played on a line with centre Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks and right-winger Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“He’s incredibly skilled and another guy that to some people may have fallen off the radar as far as dealing with the injuries that he’s been through the last couple years,” Toews said. “You see some of the goals he’s scored in the Olympics and even in the NHL in the previous couple years, I think he’s a pretty underrated player that’s for sure.”
After missing the first day of the camp with a back injury, goalie Cam Ward of the Carolina Hurricanes suited up for an afternoon practice with Team Red.
Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf is at the camp, but won’t take part in on-ice sessions after undergoing off-season hernia surgery.