It’s still the same player, still the same number, still the same good guy, but something’s changed. Simon Gagne no longer wears the Orange and Black, but he’s still one of us.
Tonight the Tampa Bay Lightning come to town to face our own Philadelphia Flyers. After 10 years of blood, sweat and tears with us, some highs and some low’s, Gagne will now be trying to light us up. He was only a kid, 18 years old, and in his first season when we blew the 3-1 lead to the Devils. There was the game where Lindros returned as a Ranger and scored a hat trick, only to be answered by Gagne’s own hat trick. In ’03 he scored in overtime to push the Eastern Conference Finals against Tampa to a 7th game. You remember that team, it was the one lead by Primeau that won with guts and heart over more talented clubs. How will we ever forget how he became one of the league’s top snipers with the help of Peter Forsberg. His 2007-2008 season was cut short mostly due to concussions, and we feared that we might lose him forever. But he came back, strong as ever.
We might not remember all of the moments over the years, all of the goals, all of the great plays he was a part of. But what about the Boston series last year? Who scored in overtime, in Game 4, to keep us alive? Simon Gagne. Who scored the winning goal in Game 7, after we’d come back in the game from a 3 goal deficit? Simon Gagne. Yes, Gags did a lot for our team, scoring in clutch situations, always being a solid two-way player, a good teammate, and very fan friendly. He was a popular guy on the team from his very first day, and towards the end of his career, he was the longest tenured athlete in Philadelphia.
Back when we first traded him away, I was sad for Simon that he ended up in Tampa. I think that team sucks ass, and I titled that post Flyers Gagne Exiled to Tampa. Back then, I wrote:
So we thank him for everything by shipping him to hockey wasteland. He goes to a team that utterly blows. They have a rookie GM (Steve Yzerman), an overrated midget (Martin St. Louis), and a bunch of garbage players as a supporting cast to Vinny Lecavalier and Steve Stamkos. Instead of giving him the respect he deserves and sending him to a real contender, he goes here?!? Really?!!??!! I’m sorry, Simon, you deserve more than this. At least for his sake it’s only one wasted season. He’s got a year left on his contract, and then he’s free to test the market. I hope he doesn’t buy into their “rebuilding” bullshit and sign on to help the team over the next few seasons. Their Stanley Cup run a few years ago was a fluke. They play in a division that doesn’t deserve to exist, in a market not meant for hockey.
If you go back to that article, you’ll see that a bunch of Lightning ripped me in the comments section for what I said. And you know what, I’m sticking to it! Tonight, when Gagne arrives, he will be welcomed with open arms. The Flyers are planning to honor him with a video montage, and possibly more surprises. Gagne did plenty for us, he deserves it. So if you go to tonight’s game, make sure you give Gags a warm welcome, because after all, this is and will always be his home.
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