fb-pixel Skip to main content

Struggling Bruins add Simon Gagne amid search for offense

Simon Gagne has played 799 games over 13 NHL seasons.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

WILMINGTON — He didn’t show up to Ristuccia Arena riding a horse and wearing a white knight’s outfit.

No one expects that Simon Gagne, who signed a one-year, one-way, $600,000 contract with the Bruins Tuesday, will singlehandedly solve Boston’s offensive woes, but the veteran certainly can’t hurt at this point.

Gagne, 34, has played 799 NHL games, scoring 288 goals and adding 309 assists for 597 points. Of his tallies, 81 came during the power play and 52 were game-winners. He is a career plus-129 and brings a wealth of experience despite sitting out last season.

He was a first-round pick (No. 22 overall) by Philadelphia in the 1998 entry draft.


During the Bruins’ extended workout Tuesday (nearly 90 minutes), Gagne skated on the fourth line with Ryan Spooner and Daniel Paille. He is expected to suit up with them against the Red Wings in Detroit Wednesday night.

“I had a good feeling, for whatever reason, since I spoke with [coach Claude Julien] this summer,” said Gagne, who came into training camp under a tryout agreement. “I had to put myself in good position to come here in good shape and show a flash of what I could bring.

“I felt, in the last couple of games of the preseason, I started to feel better and better. I’m always a positive guy and I stayed positive the whole time and finally I’m really happy that [the contract] happened.”

Gagne understands that preseason games, when teams are tinkering with combinations and testing out prospects, are a far cry from the regular season, when winning is the only goal.

“Preseason, it’s one thing,” he said. “I started to feel better by the end. Now, with the salary-cap problem and not having a chance to play the first four games, it’s a week of not playing a game.


“Hopefully I didn’t lose everything, but I had some good practices with the coaches after morning skates and a couple of good bike rides. I feel pretty good, but it’s one thing to feel good in practice, it’s another to feel good in the real game. We’ll see tomorrow.”

Gagne is unsure what his role will be, but he and Spooner add speed and offensive gifts that have been missing from the Bruins’ fourth line in the past. Gagne said he’s open to anything.

“If I have to be the extra guy, or have to be on the fourth line or a guy who will replace some guys when things are not going well or [are sidelined by] injuries, playing on the [penalty kill or power play], whatever it takes, I’m here to help the team win,” he said.

“I’m really happy to have a chance to get back into the league with a good team.”

Gagne, who for the Flyers potted 47 goals in 2005-06 and 41 in 2006-07, isn’t the player he used to be, but the Bruins believe he has more in the tank.

“If I’m on the fourth line, I don’t want to say you have to play a different role, but you’re definitely not there for scoring goals,” said Gagne. “You’re there [to not] get scored on, to bring some energy, and try to spend time in their zone.

“I’ve got the experience from playing on different lines in the past, I know what you have to bring on different lines and I’m capable of bringing different aspects.


“If I have to play on the fourth line [Wednesday], we’ll try to bring some offense. That’s something we need to bring right now. Maybe try to shoot more pucks at the net and try to create something.”

Gagne, who had some opportunities to get back to playing last season but opted not to take them, feels the hunger to resume his career.

“It’s all about having fun and playing the game again,” he said. “It’s something maybe I lost last year and that’s why maybe I didn’t play. Now I feel like it’s back and I’m enjoying my time here. You need to make sure you’re having fun with the game, and now I’m having fun.”

Julien said Gagne brings experience, which can help settle a team that has stumbled to a 1-3 record out of the gate.

“Everybody knows he has been a good player in this league,” said the coach. “He has had some setbacks and we hope he’ll be able to recapture what he had hopefully at the best level possible. He has accepted any role we want to give him.

“When you’ve got that opportunity to get a guy like that, why not? I think he’s a good addition to our team.”

Julien thinks the new fourth line combination has potential to bring a different dimension to the team.

“You’ve got different look [to] the fourth line,” he said. “Spooner is not [Gregory] Campbell. And Gagne, for example, is not [Shawn] Thornton. So, right there, you’ve got two guys who probably have more speed and more skill right now.


“It’s a different kind of a look but it doesn’t mean we don’t want that other look, either. We’re hoping they can hold their own, with two experienced guys on each side and a young guy who has a lot of potential in the middle, so we have to see how that turns out.”

.   .   .

The Bruins waived forward Bobby Robins for the purpose of sending him to Providence, and assigned Jordan Caron there as well.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at marrapese@globe.com.