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Simon Gagne expects to enjoy successful reunion with Mike Richards in Los Angeles

Jul 16, 2011, 3:11 PM EDT

Simon Gagne, Mike Richards AP

Whether the player sees it coming or not, being traded can often create a very uncomfortable transition. On the bright side, many of the players involved in this summer’s biggest deals could enjoy a slightly smoother transition since they’ll be reunited with former teammates.

It’s possible Jeff Carter is still a bit upset about being shipped from Philadelphia from Columbus, but former Flyers teammate R.J. Umberger might be able to show him the ropes in Ohio. Devin Setoguchi was elated when Dany Heatley told him that he would join him in Minnesota after the Wild completed a second blockbuster trade with San Jose.

Yet when you consider the best reunion from a pure chemistry standpoint, the Los Angeles Kings’ might have hit the jackpot by signing Simon Gagne and trading for Mike Richards. The two made their best music together in the 2008-09 season with Philly; Gagne scored 34 goals (matching his goal-scoring output from the last two seasons) while Richards scored a career-high 80 points.

Injury issues could plague Gagne and a different offensive system could foul things up for the both of them, but it’s tough to deny the wisdom of bringing the two back together. It’s a point that hasn’t been lost on Gagne, who discussed the reunion with Helene Elliott as he visited Los Angeles earlier this week.

“I had a lot of success with Mike in Philly for many years. It’s always a plus to have the chemistry building right away,” said Gagne, who will wear No. 12, which he has worn since childhood. “We didn’t play together last year, but a year is not too bad. … I’m sure we’ll have a chance to show what we can do and we will try to take that chance. We have a lot of other players offensively that I’m sure we could find chemistry with too.”

While the Washington Capitals’ mind-numbing bargain contract with Tomas Vokoun topped it soon after, the Kings’ deal with Gagne still ranks as one of the best free agent gambles of the 2011 off-season. Health is the biggest concern for Gagne, but he’s a natural goal scorer who has good speed and can play a decent defensive game to boot.

Plenty of people wonder if the Kings will be a genuine Stanley Cup contender in 2011-12. That might just happen if Gagne finds a good groove with Richards once again.

  1. icelovinbrotha215 - Jul 16, 2011 at 8:50 PM

    L.A. is going to love Gags. Was a class act and an offensive threat. Was tough to see him leave Philly, but that was strictly a money move (obviously). I wonder how Richards will respond to the change of scenery? He did a complete 180 from 2009-10 season to this past season. Time will tell. But if he straightens up, the Kings could be the team to beat in the West for years to come.

  2. andyreidisfat - Jul 16, 2011 at 10:15 PM

    Richards is soooooooooooo overrated its not even funny. The only thing he does relly well is as a defensive forward. The only reason he ever looked good here in philly is because of the players he had around him.

    Gagne however has a tremendous amount of skill. He really can have a 30-35 goal season very easily. The big problem with him is injury. The guy is never healthy. IMO thats why the Flyers let him go. Had been a guy that stayed healthy he would still be a Flyer. The sad thing is most likely he won’t help L.A. at all. My guess is he plays 25-40 games this year. I hope for his sake he plays a lot but i doubt it will happen. I will always miss gags and hope he does get it together and stay healthy.

    As far as Richards goes the Kings made stupid mistake. They let Ticket sales influence a trade. Schenn is going to not only be a better player than Richards in the long run, I would bet the house he out produces him this season if given the chance to play. Not only that, while think richards will have more points I think Simmonds ends up being more important to the Flyers than Richards to the Kings and I think he ends up with more Goals than Richards.

    L.A. got worked real bad in this trade. In fact 5 years from now we will look at this trade as one of the most lopsided trades in the history of the NHL. Schenn is going to be 100 point a year guy and a great two way forward and Richards is going to exposed as good defensive forward who doesn’t put up points when he plays on a les stalented team. Richards is also a problem for coaches. Stevens who claims to “love” Richards is just spew bull poop right now as everyone in philly knows Stevens lost his job here because both Richards and Carter (the teams leaders) quit on him. Half my family routes for L.A. as they live there, and i hope for them L.A. does well. But after trading a future superstar in schenn i just don’t see how it happens.

    • sasquash20 - Jul 17, 2011 at 6:27 AM

      While I agree over time the Flyers will get the best of this deal, I can’t say it was a total mistake by LA either. They need a 2nd line center, they got that in Richards. Yes he is a defensive minded player, and a very good defensive forward. To say he has no offensive skills is just dumb. He should have never been made the captain or team leader in Philly. Rumors have it that maybe he needed to cut out some of the night life. I hope being traded will make him realize that. Either way hes not a top line forward. Maybe a change of scenery will do him good.

      Gagne is a low risk high reward move. Clearly he has skills, its like you said can he stay healthy? I hope so, I always like him and thought he was a class act.

    • icelovinbrotha215 - Jul 17, 2011 at 5:03 PM

      Hahaha Richards isn’t overrated. But I do hope your lofty projections for Simmonds and Schenn do come true. Richards is a very good player. Has proved it for most of his career. But there have been many rumors about his life outside of the rink that don’t compliment his on-ice obligations. L.A. could be the worse thing that happened to him. Also could be the wakeup call he desperately needed.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kane (1969)
  2. P. Kessel (1477)
  3. M. Richards (1280)
  4. N. Backstrom (1177)
  5. M. Giordano (1121)