Simon Gagne won’t return to Bruins this season after father’s death

Oct 15, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Simon Gagne (12) defended by Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith (2) in the second period at Joe Louis Arena. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)
Oct 15, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Simon Gagne (12) defended by Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith (2) in the second period at Joe Louis Arena. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

The grief was too much for Simon Gagne to handle.

The veteran NHL forward announced on Monday that he’s decided not to return to the Boston Bruins and the NHL this season, after losing his father to cancer.

Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said the Bruins have changed Gagne’s status to that of a “suspended player.”

Gagne, 34, joined the team on a tryout contract during training camp, and then earned a 1-year deal. He played 23 games, scoring three goals and an assist.

He left the team on Dec. 10 to return to Quebec to be with his father, who had liver cancer. He passed away on Dec. 26, 2014.

From the Bruins:

“At this time Simon feels that he has to be home with his family and he has the complete support of the Boston Bruins organization with this decision,” said Chiarelli. “Given Simon’s decision not to return to the team, we have to change his status to maintain a full roster. I spoke to Simon about this, and he assured me that we have his full support with this status change.”

“The last month has been extremely difficult for me with my father being sick and his passing,” said Gagne. “To play in the NHL you have to be 100% mentally, emotionally and physically committed to the game. At this time I know that I cannot be close to those levels. The Bruins organization and my teammates have been great to my family and I during this time. When I decided not to return this season, I spoke to Peter and assured him that I did not want the organization or my teammates to be impacted. Together we made the decision that my status would be changed so that the team could have a full active roster. In addition, I would like to thank the fans and the NHL family for all of the support that they have given my family and I during this difficult time – it has truly meant a lot.”

Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Simon Gagne … there have been more than a few reminders this season how fleeting our time can be with loved ones, and how impactful these personal losses can be for professional athletes.

Prayers go out to Gagne and his family.