But, that boost may not be a tangible one felt on the ice, as coach Daryl Sutter was noncommittal when asked if the 32-year-old, 11-year veteran would actually see action, according to Joseph D'Hippolito of The New York Times.
“He is available,” Sutter said. “That’s a better way of looking at it, right? You need lots of live ammo.”
Gagne suffered a concussion, the third of his career, only 34 games into the season.
Even if Gagne doesn't see action, the presence of a veteran with so much experience is sure to bolster the team's readiness for the final. For many of these players, this is the biggest series of their lives, and let's not forget the Kings are a very young team.
Their average age is 26 years old, and more importantly, everyone in the core of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick is 27 or younger.
With all of them having spent their entire careers with the Kings, no one has ever been this deep into the postseason. However, Gagne has been deep into the playoffs in five different seasons, and most recently, he played in the 2010 Stanley Cup final with the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Kings sought veteran leadership and scoring ability when they signed Gagne in 2011. He had a solid start, with 17 points, before he suffered the concussion that forced him to miss the remainder of the season and all of the postseason to this point.
Technically, the Kings have proved they don't need him to win. They have hit their stride even without the veteran on the ice and blown through the postseason with a 12-2 record. Still, it's great having your teammate back healthy and ready to contribute, as Gagne's teammate Dustin Penner pointed out.
“It’s great to see him back on the ice, seeing him smile and being around the guys,” forward Dustin Penner said. “We know how tough it is being injured.
Gagne has been given full clearance to return, and whether Sutter decides to play him, seeing Gagne suit up should be a positive for the young Kings as they chase a title.
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