The regular season may only be five games old but the Los Angeles Kings are on-track with Simon Gagne performing up to his full ability. The 31-year-old has already registered three goals and four assists in those games, as well as a +6 rating. In particular, Gagne scored a highlight reel goal last night en route to his team's win over St. Louis. Now I know that regardless how pretty (or ugly) it is, a goal's a goal. But Simon Gagne is seeming to have found a comfort zone with his new team.
There's nothing wrong with being optimistic but I feel the need to be careful and it doesn't have as much as to do with Gagne's injury history but more to do with past players who have impressed early on with their new teams and then disappeared. If you're looking for an example in Los Angeles, you need to look no further than Jeremy Roenick.
Early in the 2005-06 season, it seemed as if the acquisition of Roenick by the Kings was nothing short of genius. Unfortunately, it wasn't long after that when we all found out that trading for JR was nothing more than a colossal mistake.
Roenick wasn't a PR disaster in Los Angeles or anything to that degree but in 58 games for the Kings that season, Roenick had a career-low in goals (9), assists (13) and points (22). Sure, this was the last season of the Dave Taylor era and the Kings as a team had minimal to no expectations but even so, Roenick spent more time acquanting himself with the Los Angeles lifestyle and, in typical JR fashion, making himself available for every talk show available to showcase his self-proclaimed knowledge and humour on everything that is hockey and the world, in general.
Simon Gagne certainly has an advantage having signed with an already-deep, talented Kings team but he is only 31 as opposed to Roenick, who was 35 when he arrived in Los Angeles some six years earlier.
With Gagne, he's the consummate professional who's all business. With Roenick, he's just an obnoxious jackass who may be a future Hall-of-Famer but is not much more than hockey's answer to Dane Cook.
But this isn't about putting Roenick down, although I have to admit that it is kind of fun. This about a new Kings team with a new direction with a veteran player who's more than capable of helping guide his new team to the promised land.
In terms of goals per game, Jeremy Roenick's career 0.376 is awfully similiar to Simon Gagne's 0.381. Neither player has had the privilege of winning the Stanley Cup but both have accomplished a lot in their respective careers despite that.
When it's all said and done, though, who would you rather have playing for the Kings? With all due respect to Roenick, I'd take the current King who dons #12 any day - even if he's not 100%.
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