Once 'destined' to play for Flyers, Simon Gagne eager to be honored

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Once 'destined' to play for Flyers, Simon Gagne eager to be honored

When Simon Gagne heard his name called at pick No. 22 on June 27, 1998, he was a little surprised.

"I never had any meetings with the Flyers before the draft," Gagne said last Friday on a conference call. "I did have meetings with all the other teams in the league but never with the Flyers."

The funny thing is, Gagne said, he was almost predetermined to play for the orange and black, as his father, Pierre, and Simon Nolet, a Flyers scout, knew each other from playing hockey.

Pierre Gagne, then a player for the Quebec Junior Aces, befriended Nolet when the two attended the Flyers' first training camp in 1967. Nolet made the Flyers; Pierre Gagne didn't.

Nolet went on to play seven seasons for the Flyers, with the 1973-74 Stanley Cup team being his last in Philadelphia. Still, the relationship between Nolet and Pierre Gagne lasted.

It was Nolet who recommended Simon Gagne to then-Flyers general manager Bobby Clarke.

"When I got drafted," Simon Gagne said, "my dad told me, 'You were destined to play for the Flyers. Simon was a good friend of mine and he's the one that pushed your name at the table.'"

Gagne will be honored by the Flyers Tuesday night before their game against the Kings at the Wells Fargo Center for his contributions over 10-plus seasons.

It'll be the third retirement ceremony this season for the Flyers, as they've already honored Kimmo Timonen and Danny Briere.

"I watched those two games and what they did before the game," Gagne said. "Flyers fans always treat their players that helped them to have success really well.

"I'm really excited and honored to get the call from Mr. (Ed) Snider, Paul Holmgren and Ron Hextall to do the same with myself."

On Sept. 15, Gagne officially retired from the NHL after 14 seasons. Last year, he played in 23 games for Boston before leaving the team on Dec. 10, 2014, while his dad battled liver cancer.

Pierre Gagne died Dec. 26, 2014, and Simon Gagne never suited up again for the Bruins.

"Everything I did hockey-wise was always my dad and I together," Simon Gagne said. "I felt that it was the right time to stop at the same time. It was just a perfect scenario.

"I knew at that time that was maybe my last game in December. We were in Phoenix and for whatever reason, I knew it."

Against the Coyotes on Dec. 6, 2014, the final game of his career, Gagne registered just one shot on net but it found its way past Arizona goalie Devan Dubnyk.

At 8:34 in the second period, Gagne batted a puck past Dubnyk off a Daniel Paille shot. The play was reviewed but ruled a good goal.

"I took the puck," Gagne said, "brought it back to my dad and I knew at that time my dad … that there was nothing that we could do for him. It was just a question of time.

"So all that at that time, even if I did decide in September to announce that I was going to retire officially, I knew at that time it was the right timing."

After 822 games with four teams — the Flyers, Bruins, Kings and Lightning — Gagne hinted his eight recorded concussions also played into his decision.

"I'm not going to lie," he said, "the injuries that I've had in the past have been a constant for myself and for my family. I didn't want to take too many other chances to push and push.

"I feel good, I'm healthy. I'm enjoying the life with my kids and I don't have any symptoms from any concussions I've had in the past. And the game changed, too."

When asked what his greatest memory as a Flyer was, Gagne said he had more than one. The one that stuck out to him first was not the one that comes to mind for most Flyers fans.

In 1999, Gagne made the Flyers out of training camp. For him, playing with Eric Lindros, John LeClair, Mark Recchi, Eric Desjardins and Co. was special.

The Flyers went to the Eastern Conference Finals that season, losing in seven games to the Devils. Gagne scored 20 goals and 28 assists in his rookie campaign.

"I had so much fun even if I was only 19 years old," he said. "Those guys helped me to feel really comfortable as a young player in my first year."

The other moment that Gagne recalled — the one most will remember him for — was the 2010 Stanley Cup Final run. More so the comeback in Boston.

Missing the first three games of the semifinals because of an injury he suffered in the quarterfinals, Gagne returned in Game 4 with the Flyers down 3-0 in the series to the Bruins.

In his first game back, Gagne scored and the Flyers forced another game and then another and then another. In Game 7, the Flyers were down 3-0 in the first period before Peter Laviolette called a timeout and then they stormed back for four goals, including Gagne's game-winner.

The Flyers ended up losing in six games to the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final.

With it all over, Gagne registered 264 goals and 535 points in 691 games in two stints with the Flyers. (He briefly played for the team in 2012-13.)

Gagne was a two-time 40-goal scorer and scored 20 or more goals in seven of his 11 seasons as a Flyer while also making the All-Star team twice.

Gagne was never a superstar but an above-average talent who was a fan favorite in Philadelphia. He was a solid two-way player with a knack for scoring big goals.

In the playoffs, he was always visible, potting 32 goals in 90 playoff games in the orange and black. And on Tuesday night, the Flyers will celebrate Gagne's career.

So what's next for the 35-year-old?

"Right now, just taking it easy," he said. "I've got three kids now, so that keeps me busy. I'm the bus driver in the morning and at the end of the day I try to go pick them up.

"I got some phone calls from different places — not just for hockey. I just want to wait to pick the right moment under the right thing that will be great for me. Maybe some TV."

Senators' Brady Tkachuk fined maximum allowable amount for crosscheck on Flyers' Scott Laughton

Senators' Brady Tkachuk fined maximum allowable amount for crosscheck on Flyers' Scott Laughton

Suffice it to say Scott Laughton got the best of the Senators on Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

He was the first star in the Flyers' 4-3 victory, scored the game-winning goal during the third period, added an assist, stood up for his teammates and got under the skin of Ottawa forward Brady Tkachuk.

So much so that Tkachuk went after Laughton, crosschecking the 25-year-old forward in the back and jumping him during the final minute of regulation. The NHL reacted quickly to the play, fining Tkachuk $2,486.56, the maximum allowable under the CBA.

Following his third-period marker, Laughton had words for the Senators' bench. He was fired up, especially after Ottawa's hits on Travis Konecny and Joel Farabee, which led to some fights. Laughton could not partake in the dropping of the gloves because he recently returned following surgery on a broken finger, which is still healing.

I knew it was coming. It’s part of the game when you do that stuff and chirp the bench, you know it’s going to come. I just can’t drop my gloves right now with my finger and everything. I’ve got some padding there so once I do that, I guess it’s a penalty or something. That’s just the way it went.

- Laughton

But Laughton still had the backs of his teammates. He was physical throughout, especially after the first-period hits on Konecny and Farabee. He also allowed his game to do the talking.

Laughton has four goals in his last six contests and the Flyers are 6-1-1 since his return following a 13-game absence because of the finger injury.

Would Laughton have liked to fight?

"Yeah," he said.

He did plenty enough.

Tkachuk's crosscheck and check to the league are proof of Laughton's work.


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Multiple fights, a potential costly injury to Travis Konecny and a different kind of Flyers win over Senators

Multiple fights, a potential costly injury to Travis Konecny and a different kind of Flyers win over Senators

Updated: 4:22 p.m.


The win was ugly.

But a really good one for the Flyers.

A lesser opponent tried to work them up, throw them off, and the Flyers still found a way to pull out a 4-3 decision over the Senators on Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

They did so while losing their best player during the first period and despite being outshot 30-21.

Scott Laughton was superb yet again with a multi-point game. He was physical when the game became physical and he scored the game-winning goal, his fourth marker in the last six games.

The Flyers (17-8-5) showed they can win when they’re far from their best, which is a good sign. They are 12-3-4 with 28 points since Nov. 1. The Capitals entered the day with an NHL-leading 28 points over that span.

The Senators (12-17-1) have lost six of their last seven games.

• The biggest storyline to come from Saturday’s game was Travis Konecny leaving the ice and never returning following a crushing hit by Mark Borowiecki in the first period.

The fights then broke out with Jakub Voracek and Joel Farabee doing the honors (see story).

The 22-year-old Konecny already had a goal in the game and has been arguably the Flyers’ most important piece to their turnaround through two months of this season.

Konecny was presumably getting checked for a concussion. If he were to miss any time, it would be a significant loss for the Flyers, who are 2-4-4 when Konecny goes scoreless in a game.

After the game, head coach Alain Vigneault said Konecny had an upper-body injury and the Flyers would have further updates Monday.

• Ivan Provorov kept on humming Saturday, matching his goal total of seven from last season by sending home a third-period missile to put the Flyers ahead 3-2 (see highlights).

The Flyers are 15-5-4 since Oct. 21. Over that stretch, Provorov has six goals, nine assists and a plus-10 mark.

• The Senators’ game-tying goal in the second period was an inexcusable one to give up by the Flyers. Carter Hart and Shayne Gostisbehere misread each other terribly, which allowed Anthony Duclair to swoop in for a shorthanded marker.

Both Hart and Gostisbehere need to be more aware in that situation.

The good news is Gostisbehere continues to push offensively and Hart has been awfully good since Nov. 1 — really, all season for that matter.

Gostisbehere has three goals in five games following a three-game benching. The 26-year-old defenseman had one goal in his previous 22 games.

Hart finished with 27 saves.

• Morgan Frost picked up his first point in eight games on Konecny’s goal.

Before the game, Vigneault expressed his confidence in the 20-year-old center who is centering the Flyers’ top line.

The 2017 first-round pick deserves some patience just like a lot of young players.

• Next week, the Flyers open a three-game road trip, which features matchups with the Avalanche on Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN), the Wild on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and the Jets on Sunday (5 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).


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