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Simon Gagne set to make emotional return to Philadelphia

Oct 14, 2010, 11:23 AM EDT

Simon Gagne

During the off-season when it came time for the Philadelphia Flyers to shed some salary to be able to have some spending flexibility during the summer, there weren’t a lot of candidates to be sent out of town to make it happen. One guy who stood out amongst the pack thanks to having just one year remaining on his contract was Simon Gagne. Sure enough, it was Gagne who was traded to Tampa Bay for Matt Walker in a cost-cutting move. Gagne who was a lifetime Flyer up to that point is still much beloved in Philadelphia, and considering how cuddly Philly fans are, that says a lot about what they think of his time there.

Now it’s time for Gagne to make his first appearance in Philadelphia as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio finds out that Gagne is expecting his homecoming to be a welcome one.

“It’ll be special. It will mean a lot. I spent 11 years there and 11 years in one life is a lot. And it’s not just the 11 years. I started my career there. I was a rookie there. When I left home for the first time I went to Philly. … Going back there is going to be weird. It’s going to be hard.

“I was laughing with the [Tampa and Montreal] media today about how it’s going to be tough to make sure I go to the left side and the locker room where we’re supposed to be and not the Flyers locker room.”

Among the vast array of new generation players – those who came to the Flyers two decades after their two Stanley Cups – Gagne was among the most congenial “gentlemen” to ever wear orange ‘n black.

He was pure class from the time he arrived with the Flyers until the time he left. He was also among a handful of Flyers who you never heard anyone say a bad thing about, including opposing players.

Whenever people think about the Philadelphia Flyers and their players, you’d be hard pressed to find the words “pure class” or “gentlemen” being applied to anyone throughout the team’s history. Gagne, however, is a different breed. He was always the pure offense on a team often littered with enforcers and power forwards who made their living laying the body all over the ice. With Flyers fans still having a place in their hearts (yes, they do have them) for Gagne, this may be one of the few Philly homecomings for an opponent that doesn’t end in a cascade of boos.

Time will tell if Philly letting Gagne go was the right move for them as a team. Financially it made complete sense as his $5 million salary was just too much for the Flyers to keep around when looking for salary cap space. You wonder if they’ll miss out on his offense. The Flyers brought in Nikolay Zherdev on the comparative cheap to try and fill the hole left by dealing Gagne and his performance this season will help determine whether or not he ends up being the focus of fans’ anger. Replacing Gagne in Philly isn’t a role anyone should be eager to fill and his reception tonight will be proof positive of that.

  1. flyerscup2010 - Oct 14, 2010 at 12:18 PM

    Wow, is it possible to throw any more Philly fan potshots in there? I’m surprised you didn’t pull out the “snowballs at Santa Claus” card here.

    Gagne’s an all-time great Flyer and by far one of the few athletes to play in Philly who was liked by all segments of the fanbase (the likes of which only players like Brian Dawkins, Brian Westbrook or Chase Utley could compare. Lindros, Iverson and McNabb can only wish). It’s gonna be an emotional night for Gagne and the fans, neither of whom wanted this to happen but both of whom understand the nature of business.

  2. psujay - Oct 14, 2010 at 4:18 PM

    Love Gagne, like almost all athletes who return to Philly he will get cheered, but way to take a lot of potshots at a fanbase. Which booing were you referring to? Because the last I checked in the past 10 years only Lindros has been booed at his return, and even that wasn’t all that loud as I was at the game. Then when we had our captain’s game even Lindros referred to Philly fans as way better than th NY, Toronto, or Dallas fans ever were. He couldn’t attend, but he sent a video message that the fans saw and gave a standing ovation. I know, I know, honest reporting requires work and doesn’t get as many page clicks, but you should try it sometime rather than recycling the same old story.

    McNabb – cheered
    Aaron Rowand – cheered
    Iverson – 10 minute standing O
    Schill- cheered
    Hextall – Cheered

    Wagner – Booed AFTER he ripped our city and our fans in the papers. What city wouldn’t do that?

    Now let’s talk about NY booing Tiki out of the stadium for no particular reason…oh wait, that’s NY and it’s against the media rules to say anything negative about those fans.

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