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The Puck Stops Here

Biggest Early Season Disappointment

During the course of the season, I try to track the worst player who plays regularly in the NHL.  Last year, I picked Raitis Ivanans then of the Los Angeles Kings.  He dressed regularly as a Kings goon but failed to score at all this season.  Ivanans is in Calgary this year and has only played one game so far thanks to injuries suffered in his fight with Steve MacIntyre of the Edmonton Oilers on opening day. 

I think it is too early in the season to clearly pick a worst player so far this year, but one very good candidate has been Simon Gagne of the Tampa Bay Lightning.  His poor start is surprising because Gagne is a proven NHL player who has twice represented Canada in the Olympics.

Gagne has six games player so far this season with no points scored so far.  He has a -8 +/- rating despite the fact his Tampa Bay team is one of the top teams in the league so far this year.  He has had considerable ice time for the Lightning, but has been unable to do anything positive with it.

Tampa Bay acquired Gagne in a trade with Philadelphia this summer.  It appeared to be a low price to pay when the Lightning gave up Matt Walker and a 2011 fourth round draft pick.  Walker has not played yet this year due to hip surgery, but he has probably been more valuable than Gagne because he has not had a chance to hurt his team. 

Gagne missed his most recent game, last night, when a stiff neck kept him out. This might be a chance to re-group and turn his season around. 

Gagne is a high profile case of a player who has been terrible so far this season.  He is hurting his team.  Fortunately, his team has done well otherwise.  I am not certain Gagne has been the worst player in the league so far, but he has been the biggest negative to his team.  He has taken a lot of ice time and failed.  He has too much talent to keep playing at this level and will likely turn things around, but so far Gagne has been a big disappointment.

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Sullyosis's avatar

Good thing I have him (Gagne) on my fantasy team.  Ass.

Posted by Sullyosis from A hateful lair in Post Apocalyptic US (or Arizona) on 10/23/10 at 06:33 PM ET


Sorry no matter how bad Gagne is out of the gate the winner is Kovalchuk.

The guy’s contract is keeping his team from having a full roster, and yet something like 50 forwards in the NHL have more points and another what 10-15 have the same number of points and better +/- numbers. Gagne may not be doing well but he not really hurting his team - he just not helping it much.

Posted by paulklos on 10/25/10 at 01:44 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Kovalchuk has outplayed Gagne so far.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 10/25/10 at 01:47 PM ET


Kovalchuk has outplayed Gagne so far.

Sure but that’s not your question is it?

Kovalchuk has hurt his team more in the sense that he has denied it the ability to ice a full roster and has not but up ‘elite’ numbers - guys making a fraction of K has are out playing him.  Even in the 6 point range K is not playing as well as a dozen other regular NHL players.  Gagne is not playing well I agree at this point in the season when it is frankly silly to argue the point anyway - but he is not hurting his team like Kovalchuk and is only a one year liability even if he never does any better…

Posted by paulklos on 10/25/10 at 06:25 PM ET


Overall I guess I just think you are jumping the gun - it too early to toss out early season goats or superstars. But Kovalchuk has fundamentally hurt the Devils and he is not performing like someone who deserves a lifetime elite contract so far - he is being outplayed but several longtime contract types who are not forcing thier teams to ice a short bench.

Posted by paulklos on 10/25/10 at 06:34 PM ET


Sorry to go on and on… but according to cap geek Tamp as over 11 mil in cap space and Gagne is a one season risk max. Thus he certainly is no bar technically to Tampa making a move even a huge one this year, and he is no dead albatross around their neck for years to come.

Posted by paulklos on 10/25/10 at 06:47 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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