Simon Gagne leaned on a painted concrete wall next to the Flyers' locker room, tugged at his baseball cap, and faced a horde of reporters at the Skate Zone in Voorhees yesterday.
Concussion-gate was in session.
Gagne, who missed most of last season with a concussion, had left Thursday's 3-2 overtime loss to New Jersey in the second period because of what he called flu-related dehydration and fatigue.
But since the star left winger had also suffered from dehydration a few days after being diagnosed with a concussion last year, red flags were raised.
Was the dehydration a sign he was having symptoms connected to his concussion?
No, no, no, Gagne said politely. Over and over. No matter how a question was asked about whether his illness was concussion-related.
"It's a tough injury I went through last year. It's something that will stick to me for a while," he said. "And now every time something happens, people will ask questions about that. But, no, I'm not worried about it. It's just a bad flu or stomach virus I've had the last two days. It could happen to anybody on the team."
Gagne, who has not absorbed a hard hit since three weeks ago, said there was no reason to do a concussion test.
"It's just natural for people to get sick, and you don't have to run any tests for concussion if you get sick," he said.
Gagne said his stomach was feeling better - he had IV treatment and was able to eat food after Thursday's game - and that he had a "little more energy" than the previous night. "And that's a good sign."
He sat out yesterday's practice but said he will play tonight in Carolina.
Gagne, who entered last night as the league's seventh-leading scorer with 31 points (13 goals, 18 assists), said his dehydration and fatigue may have been caused by playing six games in a nine-day period.
"There are a lot of factors right now, like me not playing for eight months last year and coming back," he said. "If you look at the last two weeks, it's just hockey, a day off, hockey, so it's lot of games right now. I know this year I will have some ups and downs and will feel a little fatigued."
Gagne said he was bombarded by phone calls from relatives who wanted to know if he was OK after he left Thursday's game. "They thought something happened again," he said. His former coach, Ken Hitchcock, now the coach at Columbus, even texted a media member because he was concerned about Gagne's condition.
"It's going to be like that for the rest of the season," Gagne said of people's concerns about his health. "But it's nothing to worry about. I'm happy that people think about myself a lot, but everything is fine. I didn't get any headaches. It was just more like fatigue than the symptoms I used to have in the past."
Breakaways. Marty Biron, who has a 2.94 goals-against average and allowed an awful goal to tie Thursday's game with 1 minute, 30 seconds left in regulation, will be replaced tonight by Antero Niittymaki (2.66 GAA). . . . Defenseman Matt Carle (back spasms) will miss his third straight game. Kimmo Timonen, who bruised his shoulder Thursday and missed the last few minutes, is expected to be in the lineup. . . . Joffrey Lupul playfully threw his glove at Scott Hartnell as he went in on a breakaway during a drill in yesterday's practice. Hartnell did not appear amused. It was Hartnell, of course, who threw his glove at Tampa Bay's Ryan Malone as he had a breakaway in the waning seconds of regulation Tuesday. Malone was awarded a penalty shot, which Biron saved in the Flyers' 4-3 overtime win.