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Simon Gagne leaves game after Scott Hannan hit, won’t return tonight

Tampa Bay Lightning v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Five

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 23: Simon Gagne #12 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates his second period goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on April 23, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Justin K. Aller

As often as we fixate on the impact of dirty hits, the stark reality is that clean hits can cause just as much damage as ugly ones. That’s the reality we must accept when following such a violent, fast-paced sport.

That seemed to be the case when Washington Capitals defenseman Scott Hannan delivered a hard but by all accounts legal hit on Tampa Bay Lightning forward Simon Gagne. The check simply caught Gagne in an awkward spot as Gagne had no chance to brace himself during the fall. His head seemed to take the brunt of the impact, which is definitely a concern.

Gagne needed help getting from the ice to the locker room, but didn’t need to leave on a stretcher as many originally feared. He was reportedly alert when speaking with Lightning medical staff but won’t return during Tampa Bay’s in-progress Game 1. Versus reports that he’ll be re-evaluated on Saturday.

It’s a scary situation for any player, but it’s especially worrisome for Gagne. He fought off some neck problems in 2010-11, most notably missing 18 games in the early portion of the season with those issues. The biggest worry might be his history of concussions, though; his 2007-08 season was cut short in February ’08 because of head injuries.

The good news is that Gagne was moving and coherent after the hit, but I would expect him to miss at least another game if not more with this injury. You really never know with these types of situations, though, so we’ll keep you updated.