BOSTON -- Bruins forward Simon Gagne's decision to sit out the remainder of the season for personal reasons had the support of his teammates on Tuesday.
Gagne took an indefinite leave of absence on Dec. 10 to be with his ailing father, who recently passed away from liver cancer. Gagne is now considered a suspended player in order for the Bruins to maintain a full roster.
After the team’s morning skate Tuesday as it prepares to host the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden, Bruins coach Claude Julien discussed the situation.
“There’s no doubt there’s a lot of things going through his mind right now,” Julien said.
Prior to signing with the Bruins as a free agent earlier this season, Gagne, 34, hadn’t played a game since April 27, 2013 due to injuries. The Bruins invited him to training camp and eventually signed him. He had three goals and one assist for four points in 23 games for Boston.
At the time of his departure to be with his father, Gagne was finding his stride.
"You could see him coming around,” Julien said. “Personal issues came into play and right now, to his credit, he certainly doesn’t want to be a liability to us. He really feels that his head is not totally there. I understand where he’s coming from and I feel for him, but I credit him for making the right decision in his mind, feeling comfortable with the fact that he’s not ready to be able to give what he thinks he can give at this stage.”
Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron has exchanged text messages with Gagne.
“He wishes us all the best and he’s definitely going to be following and pulling for us,” Bergeron said. “He wasn’t mentally well enough to come back and feel like he could be 100 percent.”
Both Quebec natives, Bergeron and Gagne have known each other for a long time and would work out during the offseasons together. Bergeron spoke with Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli last summer about the possibility of signing Gagne. Once he arrived in Boston, it was evident his presence would be a good addition.
“He fit in well. Right away. He’s a veteran that had the experience and came in with a great attitude and wanted to just fit in and be part of the solution,” Bergeron said. “He definitely was a great addition to us.”
Since he hadn’t played in a while, Gagne was a healthy scratch the first six games of the season before he made his debut on Oct. 15 at Detroit. He was on the fourth line along with Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille for the majority of his time with the team.
“It’s disappointing from the standpoint as a teammate and a friend and a linemate,” Campbell said. “He’s a good player and was finding his game before he left, but on the other hand the circumstances that he’s going through it’s really hard to judge somebody, it’s his personal life and we respect that.”