Au Revoir, Simon
I’m going to attempt to do something in this post that’s about as hard as I’ve ever done as a writer: say goodbye to one of my favorite Flyers in the history of the franchise.
Simon Gagne was more of a Flyer than any member of the current team, and only few in my lifetime represented the Flyers crest better than how Gagne did in his 10+ years in Philadelphia. And now, he is gone.
Never again will we hear Lou Nolan belt over the PA System at the Wachovia (Wells Fargo) Center, “Flyers goal scored by number twelve, SEEEEEEEMOAN GAAAHNNNNYAAAAYYYYY!!!” Never again will Gagne score for a case of TastyCakes. Never again will there be an assistant captain wearing the number 12 in Orange and Black (at least, there better not be).
But, perhaps most importantly, never again will Simon Gagne be a member of the Philadelphia Flyers’ on-ice product. And that, quite frankly, is heart breaking.
Instead, Gagne and his ten years of service to the Flyers are headed South – way South – to Tampa Bay and joining the Lightning. He’ll go from playing with Jeff Carter and Mike Richards to Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos. The trade-off for Gagne isn’t all that bad.
The Flyers? Well, they just about took the equivalent of a Walk of Shame in this deal. They traded away Gagne, who’s been a face of this franchise for the past decade, has worn an “A” on his sweater, and has always competed despite being slowed by injuries at times in recent years. They traded Gagne and got nothing.
Matt Walker, a defenseman who has done little to nothing in his five-plus years of service in the National Hockey League is what comes back to the Orange and Black. A defenseman. On a team that already had 7 under contract that were more than capable of handling the NHL play. And now there are 8 of them. For six spots.
Did I mention they also received a 4th round pick in the deal?
It’s not a good situation, Flyers fans. Not at all. Paul Holmgren was treading water in the deep end for a while, but its safe to say at this point that the consensus in Flyerdom is that he is officially drowning. Perhaps the saddest part of all this is that he is the only person capable of performing the rescue.
In the end, they’ll call Simon Gagne being dealt to Tampa Bay a cap-clearing deal. The sad part is that is exactly what it was. The even more pathetic part is that the deal was a direct result of the Flyers’ own doing. Sure, we all know they were close to the cap – it seems to be a yearly occurence. Still, this situation could have been avoided. Why sign Jody Shelley, why re-sign Dan Carcillo? What do those two men bring to the table that is so important it ended up ultimately being a deciding factor in the cap that sent Gagne packing? Is Nik Zherdev the answer on a one-year contract – precisely the amount of time Gagne had left in his deal?
There are plenty of questions, and very few answers. What we know right now is this: the Flyers still have a solid nucleus of fowards, but are missing perhaps their most important one. Their defense is as good as ever, but perhaps too deep, if that’s even possible. Their goaltending? Well, Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher or Johan Backlund isn’t exactly a combination that will make fans exhale. The team will be good, but it’s hard to say if they’ll be better.
Fans in Philadelphia were just starting to put their hearts back into place after having them ripped out by Patrick Kane in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Now, just as everything was seemingly returned to normal, one of our own, Paul Holmgren, has taken our hearts from us again in the form of dealing Simon Gagne.
It wasn’t Homer’s fault, but it was his doing. Simon Gagne was meant to be a Flyer for life, and every day he is in a different uniform will be a difficult one for many in South Philadelphia. He’ll have a great year in Tampa Bay, too, playing alongside names like Lecavalier, Stamkos, and St. Louis.
Deep down, I’ll be happy for him. It just hurts to see him gone.
Au Revoir, Simon. Bon Chance.