|Which one is Gagne?|
Simon Gagne was one of several big-time additions to the Los Angeles Kings roster this summer, even if his arrival has been somewhat lost in the shuffle. Signing on July 2nd, he fell between the blockbuster trade for Mike Richards, the heavy pursuit of Brad Richards and last month’s arrival of Ethan Moreau.
Bringing him in at left wing could be seen as a solution to a collection of ongoing issues, including – one, replacing Alexander Frolov‘s points (51) from 2009-10 with Alexi Ponikarovsy‘s output this past season (15 points – yes, you read that right) didn’t work out…two, there isn’t a lot of depth in the Kings’ pipeline over on the left side…three, with left wing Ryan Smyth requesting a trade back to Edmonton this summer, the apparent hole became even worse.
Enter Gagne, who says the Kings tried to get him once before – right before he went to Tampa Bay. No worries though, perhaps his time there was just a training period to get him ready for the travel schedule he’ll now endure in the Western Conference.
“I’ll get used to it as the season goes on. Plus, if you look at the travel we had last year in Tampa Bay, there was a lot of it. I was talking with some people who work here with the Kings and it looks like the travel we did in Tampa was similar to what the Kings did last year,” said Gagne.
“So, it’s tough. It will take time, I know that – with the time change being the hardest thing to adjust to, I’m sure. But, at the same time, I’m here for two years. So, I have no choice. It’s about finding a way to take care of yourself – like, having good sleep, making sure you’re eating well and stuff like that.”
One place he’s never traveled to for a hockey game is Las Vegas – a place he says he didn’t even know the Kings were scheduled to play a pre-season game when he first agreed to terms with the club.
One of the reasons he’s taking everything in stride is the fact that so many of the Kings players have welcomed him with open arms.
“I had a lot of text messages, from pretty much the whole team,” Gagne explained. “They didn’t have to do that. They could have waited to shake my hand today or at camp. But, I got a lot of good texts from the guys. So, it was really fun to see that.”
Another first for Gagne is the Kings training facility in El Segundo. Tomorrow, he’ll begin his first training camp in Los Angeles there. However, just a week ago, he visited the building for the first time.
“You always try to compare things like that with what you’ve experienced in other organizations,” Gagne said. “That might be the nicest practice facility I’ve been in. The one in Philadelphia was pretty similar to what we have here in LA and definitely better than what we had in Tampa Bay. We spend a lot of time there, so I think it’s great to be able to be there all day. We have everything there. I’m very excited about it. I had a chance to go there for the first time (Saturday) and work out a little bit. It will be pretty fun to get on the ice there soon.”
So, what else has he seen in Southern California?
“I’m a big fan of Entourage,” proclaimed Gagne. “I was actually watching the show on HBO and trying to figure out where the best places to be are. It’s great for my family too. We want a nice area for the kids and my wife too. It’s one thing to play for a good team and a great city, but it’s just as important to be comfortable outside of hockey. You spend a lot of time away from the rink too. So, it’s important to be comfortable. I’m excited to see what we really have here in LA.”
As are GM Dean Lombardi, head coach Terry Murray and the rest of the Kings staff.
They’ll get their first look of what they have – at least on the ice – beginning early tomorrow morning.
Training Camp, day one. It’s finally here.