In the wake of Simon Gagne’s announcement that he is retiring from hockey, we wanted to pay tribute to the man who donned orange & black for so many years and left quite a legacy in the hearts and minds of Flyers fans.
Simon Gagne was the first player I remember the Flyers signing, way back in 1999, when I was 13 and barely knew anything about hockey. I grew up with a dad and brother who were passionate about the Eagles and Phillies, but not quite as interested in hockey. The love for hockey wasn’t passed down a generation like it was for so many Flyers fans, but I embraced it anyway. And I embraced players like Gagne, guys who gave their all every shift, who never made excuses when they didn’t play well, who were known both on and off the ice as good, well-respected men. It’s no secret that the Philly media adored Gagne, and they had every reason to. It’s also no secret that the Philly media likes to villify players (some that don’t even deserve it), so that’s surefire proof that Gagne was a great guy.
I followed his career from Philadelphia, to Tampa Bay, to Los Angeles, (where he won the Stanley Cup and I bawled my eyes out, so proud and happy for the man I never knew, but felt like I did), to Boston, to the Olympics and Juniors and Worlds in between. But I, like most people, associate Gagne with the 2010 playoff series against the Bruins. I still get chills thinking about that series, history against the Flyers, the incredible comeback, “history will be made”, and Gagne’s part in all of it. He was my hero in that series, and in the hockey world in general.
Congratulations on a long-lasting career, a Stanley Cup victory so incredibly deserved, and your retirement, Simon. We’ll miss you in the game, but your legacy in Philadelphia will live on a long, long time.
My first hockey memory is watching Scott Stevens knock Eric Lindros out. My second is the Flyers’ Game 7 loss to Tampa Bay in the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals, just one game after arguably the high-water mark of Simon Gagne’s career as a Flyer and honestly, probably his NHL career as well. I’ll let other people who were older than 9 when that happened talk about that. But after watching the team in the 2009 playoff run, 2010 was when I fell in love with the Flyers and with hockey in general. And Simon Gagne was a huge part of that.
We can talk about his game-winning power play goal late in the 3rd period in Game 7 against Boston, capping off one of the best memories the Flyers ever gave me. We could also talk about the amount of chances he left unfinished against Antti Niemi in the Stanley Cup Finals just 2 rounds later, goals robbed from him by Niemi’s flexibility that potentially could have been the difference in that series. But what I’ll always remember about Gagne is his Game 4 performance against the Bruins, one that jump-started the Flyers’ comeback in the series in his first appearance back from a broken foot that ended with a re-direction in front of Tuukka Rask to keep the Flyers alive and send it to Game 5. There was a lot of stuff before that, of course, including two 40 goal seasons, two more 30 goal seasons, and more than a few nagging injuries. There was much fewer stuff after that, including a heartbreaking and ultimately cap-crippling trade to Tampa Bay for walking hip injury Matt Walker, a Stanley Cup win in the background of the rest of the former Flyers in Los Angeles, and a short, nostalgia-inducing comeback in an aborted season for an underwhelming Flyers team in 2013. But the Boston series, and Game 4 specifically, is what I’ll always remember about Simon Gagne.
Congrats on a great career, and thanks for your time as a Flyer, Simon.
Simon Gagne was one of the faces of this franchise during the early 2000s. Although Gagne was central to many amazing moments during his Flyers career, none will be remembered quite as much as his go ahead goal against the Bruins during the 2010 conference semifinals. Stephane touched on this before… but my fondest memory of Simon Gagne will always be the game winning goal that he scored in game 6 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals.
I was 15 years old at the time of that game, but my behavior more closely resembled that of a 6 year old as I sat on the floor, about 8 inches from the television, watching Keith Primeau tie that game with a minute left in regulation. As Gagne was one of the most well liked players in the city, it was extremely fitting that he would be the one to notch the overtime winner and force a game 7. Through all of the amazing runs that the Flyers have gone on since then, including the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an atmosphere in the Wells Fargo Center quite like the one that existed during that game. It’s not just my favorite Gagne memory, but my favorite Flyers memory of all time.
Simon Gagne leaves the NHL in possession of everything that he could have asked for out of the game. Congrats on a great career, Simon.