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Concussed Flyers F Simon Gagne already planning for next season

PHILADELPHIA - Simon Gagne's season was ended because of a concussion. Unlike former Flyers like Eric Lindros and Keith Primeau, his career isn't going to end because of the lingering symptoms.

Gagne was advised by a concussion specialist to sit out the rest of the season and take at least a month off before starting light physical exercise, recommendations that have Philadelphia hopeful their star forward will be ready to go for the start of next season.

"Technically, I will be done for this year," Gagne said on Thursday night. "I don't think I will be back this year. I think it will be fair to say I'll play next year."

Only 26 and hopeful of a lengthy NHL career, Gagne agreed with advice received from Dr. James Kelly after Wednesday's visit that the forward not play again this season - playoffs included. Gagne realized that was a likely prognosis but was relieved when he was told the symptoms should not affect the remainder his career.

"No, not at all," Gagne said. "He believed strongly that if I take the time right now just to relax, that's the best medication."

Gagne, speaking before the Flyers played San Jose, described his symptoms as "not too bad." Gagne mostly feels dizzy and off-balance, but better than he did earlier in the season.

He has seven goals and 18 points in 25 games

"Yeah, I want to play this year, but I want to play for the next 10 years," he said.

Gagne said he was told that he didn't suffer three concussions, the first one never healed. Each blow to the head only aggravated the symptoms from the original concussion. Had Gagne rested even longer the first time, there was a chance he might not necessarily be in the position of sitting out the season.

"The first one was getting worse and worse every time," Gagne said.

Gagne suffered his first concussion on Oct. 24 after being hit in the jaw by Panthers defenceman Jay Bouwmeester. He sat out four games, then was hurt again Nov. 7 and missed the next 26 games. He was injured again on his first shift in a Feb. 10 loss at Pittsburgh and hasn't played again.

Former Philly stars Lindros and Primeau both had promising careers derailed because of too many brutal blows to the head.

The Flyers placed Gagne on the long-term injury list and his salary will not count against the cap as long as he is out. Even with the Flyers on an eight-game losing streak entering Thursday's game and the roster hit hard by injuries, general manager Paul Holmgren said he won't panic and mortgage the future before Tuesday's trade deadline.

"I still think we have a good foundation here of young players that we certainly like to keep together," Holmgren said. "To do anything outrageous does not make sense."



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