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It's Always Sunny in Florida: Thank You Simon | October
It's interesting that today is the 14th. As 14 minus 2 is 12, and that was Simon Gagne's number with the Flyers during his 10 seasons/12 years as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers organization.

Welcome to our Simon Gagne Day Coverage, thanks for tuning in.

Today is the first time that Simon Gagne will return to the place he called 'maison' for 11 years since he was cast off in a mismanagement sparked fire sale to the Tampa Bay Lightning for an 8th defenseman that makes $1M. And before I continue with my tribute to Simon Gagne I'd like you to just look at these numbers really quick:

Matt Walker - $1M
Oskars Bartulis - $600k
Ian Laperriere - $1.2M
Jody Shelley - $1.1M

If computers have ruined the math part of your brain, that's $4M dollars right there. Maybe if the Flyers medical staff focused a bit more on their recently twice broken-faced journey man and Paul Holmgren didn't suck at math as much as we do, we could've figured out a way to have both Simon and Nikolay. Kind of makes me jealous for what the Devils are doing despite their 3rd game into the season (!) woes. But I've expressed my malcontent with this move before. And then again. So let's leave the negativity of stupidity behind us and focus on the good times.

Imagine that the Flyers drafted some kid from the QMJHL that no one's ever heard of and that instead of updating you via Twitter about his single goal over the weekend I was updating you about his 120 points in 61 games. Because if I hadn't been 16 at the time and afraid when I flushed it the internet was going to suck me down into the ether I would have been.

Oh, that last part was about a toilet…nevermind.

Anyway, after an incredible final season of juniors we plucked Gags out of the Q at the ripe age of 19 and he made the Flyers in camp. I was pretty surprised how candid Gagne was in his interview with Antony J. San Flipadelphia when he opened up more than a player usually does and admitted what we all know but is nice to hear actually said - that when you move to another town in another country when you're 19 it's a big deal. And then when that's the only place you, as an adult, has ever called home, yeah, going back after they trade you for MATT WALKER is a big deal too. Gagne became an adult in Philadelphia and we just…I'm not going to get into that again…

So this French Canadian puookie scored 20 goals his first year as a Flyer and put up 48 points. So we loved him. Each of the next two seasons it got better and while he wasn't as crafty as Claude Giroux, we spoke about him in the same we; he was the electric Canadian kid that was going to score the big goals and make the big plays that finally took us back to the holy land.

Although his 4th season was funked up by an injury, he came back with a solid rebound in the 2003-04 season and scored a huge OT goal in the playoffs that has become part of Flyers folklore, especially since he'd do almost the same exact thing in the same exact place 6 years later:

And then just like with everyone else, the lockout ruined everything. We missed a full year of one of the purest goal scorers in our franchise's career because everyone's a bunch of corporate shit heads. The years after the lockout, with Peter Forsberg at his side getting him the biscuit when he could make it into the lineup, Gags scored 47 and 41 goals. And after the 2006-07 season that saw us win all of 3 games during the regular season, Gagne was going to help lead us back to the top of the pack, at least. After all he was only 27 and already climbing the charts as one of the leading scoring left wingers in club history. And apparently, the Flyers were coming back with a vengeance with a center that could get Simon the puck, in little French Canadian countryman Danny Briere.

But Gags would end up suffering through concussions during the 2007-08 season and only manage to play in 25 games. He missed our water rebirth as a serious contender in the Conference, but he was instructed to come back hungry for more in 2008-09. And healed, he did exactly that.

In 2008-09 Gagne reminded us just exactly whose house the Wachovia Center was, despite Jeff Carter's attempt to upstage him with a 46 goal season. It was impressive, sure, but it didn't come with an 8 season resume. Gagne potted 34 goals and added 40 helpers to finish 3rd in scoring on this new, younger club, and we felt reassured that things were back in place, and comforted that it wasn't only Gagne that could score anymore. He had help, and taking some of that pressure off of him would result in huge dividends. We thought.

But then again last year the injury bug bit. Gags struggled with a wonky groin and would miss 22 games and nearly 2 months as a result of the pull. He still put up 40 points in 58 games, but whispers began circulating that the team had moved on. When we lost him to a broken toe in the first round of the playoffs last spring we let out a collective 'eehh' like we had just gotten a paper cut - it sucked, but wasn't that big of a deal.

And then, as Jon Bon Jovi would say, came the blaze of glory.

With the Flyers down 0-3 to the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals the Flyers sniper was returning to the lineup, broken toe or not. This seemed to be a nice gesture on his part, but really, he hadn't scored in the first round, we'd missed him for 1/3 of the regular season, and were down 0-3. The memories of the 40 goal seasons, the overtime heroics, the hard work in the corners, were just that - memories. Someone please dim the lights:

Fade Out/Fade In

Fade Out/Fade In

He proved us wrong. He played for his life, and he won it. Except there was no fairy tale ending.

Gags would go on to score two goals in the Stanley Cup Finals in his first ever trip. The summer landed and rumors that Simon had been asked to wave his No Trade Clause started to circulate, although he confirmed that he, in fact, had not done so. But the die had been cast. The Flyers defensive woes and Gagne's big, single year remaining on his contract had everyone saying he'd be shown the door. And in the end he was.

People in the world of athletics over use the term 'business.' They use a variety of phrases containing that term to hide the fact that they are as imperfect as the rest of us, and sometimes difficult decisions have to be made. Sometimes they end up being wrong, sometimes they end up being right. But all that aside we wish Simon Gagne the best, he always played hard, and in the end, in Philadelphia, that's all we ask.