Posts Tagged ‘Simon Gagne

16
Feb
11

FLYERS: Picture – Versteeg Battles Gagne

Photo Courtesy of Chris O’Meara, Associated Press

…I’ll never get used to not seeing Simon in a Flyers’ jersey, but he’s now part of the top threat to the team’s Cup chances, so my feelings on that may change. Versteeg played over 17 minutes last night in his Flyers debut, and was a minus-1, skating on Mike Richards and Andreas Nodl’s line.

14
Oct
10

FLYERS: Gagne Gets Revenge, Lightning Win

he Flyers dropped their first regulation contest tonight to the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning by a final score of 3-2.

Gagne returned to Philly with a victory tonight

The Flyers never led in the game tonight despite outshooting Tampa Bay by a total of 26-24. Steven Stamkos, Dominic Moore, and Pavel Kubina scored for the Lightning, while Nik Zherdev and Here are some quick hits:

– Simon Gagne is a class act. We will miss him forever in Philadelphia, but the amount of admiration the Flyers fan base had for him only grew after his in-game tribute aired tonight and Gagne’s sincere appreciative response to the Philadelphia crowd.

– Andrej Meszaros played yet another strong game. Keep an eye on #41 in Orange and Black, he is something to watch this season on the blue-line.

– Defensively, Matt Carle was atrocious tonight. He picked up an assist on Briere’s goal, but was otherwise awful in the game, taking a crucial delay-of-game penalty late in the contest, coughing up the puck in the second period that resulted in a Tampa Bay goal, and finishing -1.

– Brian Boucher was ok. He moves to 0-1-1 on the season and probably would have liked to get that second goal back.

– Vinny Lecavalier was absolutely invisible tonight. I expected a lot more out of him.

Nikolay Zherdev scored his first as a Flyer in a losing effort

– Nikolay Zherdev finally broke through with his first goal as a Flyer off a beautiful feed in front from James van Riemsdyk. He looked relieved to get the first one out-of-the-way after it happened.

– The Flyers only managed a pathetic four shots in the third period. Based off how Tampa played defensively, I’d say that was more a lackluster effort on the Flyers part than a shutdown effort from the Tampa side.

– Peter Laviolette has GOT to find a third piece to the Richards-Carter-? Line. Dan Carcillo is not that piece. I heard Bill Guerin’s still looking for a place to play.

– Lavvy also needs to work on the powerplay. 1 for 17 on the year with the talent the Flyers have is inexcusable.

– The Lightning are off to a 3-0-0 start and look pretty solid. Chances are they will be playing some playoff hockey this season.

– I really like Sean O’Donnell. He’s old-school: not flashy, not the best skater, but he gets the job done.

– Danny Briere led the Flyers with 5 SOG tonight.

– Kimmo Timonen led the Orange and Black with 25:40 TOI.

The Flyers are next in action when Sidney Crosby, Eric Tangradi, and the Pittsburgh Penguins come into town this Saturday. The start time for that game has been moved to 6 PM to accommodate Game One of the NLCS (7:57 PM first pitch), which will be taking place across the street.

Here’s the Gagne video from tonight:

13
Oct
10

FLYERS: Team to Honor Gagne Pre-Game via Tweet

…This is great news. I was a huge Gagne fan, and he was by far my dad’s favorite player so there’s always been a strong connection in my house to the former Flyer. I will be in attendance at the game tomorrow night against Tampa Bay and will be sure to post some pictures. As far as that special ticket offer is concerned, check it out. The game’s worth being in the building for. It’s going to be an emotional night on all accounts, but it’s important for the Flyers to realize the stark truth: a win is far more important than a former teammate. (That really pained me to type). Love and miss ya, Gags. Hope to see you back in Orange and Black sometime sooner rather than later.

29
Jul
10

FLYERS: Player Report Card – Simon Gagne

NAME: Simon Gagne

POSITION: Left Wing

Regular Season Statistics: 58 Games Played – 17 Goals, 23 Assists, 40 Points. -1

Analysis: Another season, another set of injuries for Gagne. Hampered by the injury bug yet again, Gagne was limited to 58 games of action this year. As a result of injury concerns, Gagne, a Team Canada regular, was left off the Canadian roster for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Still, Gagne had a solid season, nearly reaching the 20 goal mark, despite missing almost 20+ games this season. His 17 goal total was a significant drop off from the 34 he put up last season, but it also needs to be taken into account that in 2009-’10 Gagne suited up for 21 less games – a considerable total. Injury concerns aside, when Gagne was in the line-up he still proved to be an invariable contributor to the Flyers’ Power Play and top offensive unit, spending most of his time paired up with Mike Richards. He seemed to regain his elite form as the season wound down, which spelled only good things for the Flyers heading into the postseason.

Postseason Statistics: 19 Games Played – 9 Goals, 3 Assists, 12 Points. -2

Analysis: A large part of the magical run the Flyers endured in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs was due to the wizardry of Gagne when in the line-up. After being unable to beat Martin Brodeur in the first round against New Jersey, Gagne suddenly was rendered useless when he broke his toe blocking a Brian Rolston slapshot in the later stages of Game Four. The injury caused the Flyers’ sniper to miss the series-clinching Game Five, as well as Games 1-3 of the Boston series, before returning in dramatic fashion to win Game Four in overtime and keep the Flyers’ season alive. From there, the majestic Gagne took over. The Flyers won the next six games they played with Gagne in the line-up, as the forward scored 6 goals in that span including the game winner capping off the Flyers’ 4-3 Game Seven victory against Boston that awarded them a spot in the history books.

FINAL GRADE: A-

Reasoning: Call me a softy, a homer, whatever you will. Gagne didn’t have a spectacular regular season by anyone’s standards, but he proved his worth when it mattered most: the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Coming back from a broken toe and keeping up with the pace of the playoffs is hard enough, but actually being a factor – and a gigantic one at that – is even more of a testament to the warrior that Simon truly is. He’ll be sorely missed in Philadelphia and questions abound as to how the Flyers will replace Simon both on the ice and in the locker room. It’s going to be difficult to assess how the Flyers do without him until all is said and done. In the meantime, Gagne likely will prosper with a talented group of studs in Tampa Bay.

20
Jul
10

FLYERS: 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.

Gagne will be missed forever in Philadelphia

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? 

#12 has given Flyers fans many great moments

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.

14
Jul
10

FLYERS: Is Zherdev a Steal?

If there’s one thing that Paul Holmgren and the Philadelphia Flyers have shown to be an unlikely characteristic of themselves during recent NHL off-seasons, it’s their apparent fetish for snooping around the KHL for lost jewels.

That search, at least over the last two summers, has landed eyes of the Orange and Black’s front office on one organization in particular: Atlant Mytishchi. Last year, the Flyers thought they had found their franchise goaltender in former Ottawa Senator cast-off and notorious National Hockey League bad-boy Ray Emery. Razor was 26 when he signed his contract in Philadelphia – a one-year deal worth $1.5 million. However, due to an onslaught of injuries that overshadowed what was otherwise a very strong start, the Emery Project was a miserable failure. Ray Emery is now 27, and unemployed. He still drives a white Lamborghini.

So, what did the Flyers do this off-season?

They found their way through Russia and back to the Atlant organization. However, instead of searching for someone who will stop goals from being scored, the men of the Flying P had turned their hunt to an individual who could put the black biscuits in the basket. And plenty of them.

Flyers fans, Nikolai Zherdev. At your service.

Zherdev could be a great pick-up in Philadelphia

Before you continue the panic that has set in within the gates of Flyerdom this past week since Zherdev becoming a Flyer was made official, hear me out. First of all, I don’t think I need to tell you the main implication of Zherdev becoming a Flyer, but I will anyway. Obviously, it makes the Salary Cap line that the Flyers are currently dwindling on even slimmer, which likely means a trade or (GASP!) a waive of a big-time Flyer in the coming days, weeks, or even months. Many have said it should be Jeff Carter, many have said Danny Briere. Not a whole lot have said Simon Gagne, but, unfortunately, that seems to be the route the Flyers are looking to take. Gagne, if/when traded, will be sorely missed in South Philadelphia, and it truly will not be the same without the longest current tenured Flyer calling the Wells Fargo (Wachovia) Center home this season. However, given the Salary Cap predicament, and Gagne’s expiring contract that will bring him into his 30’s, it kind of makes sense.

All of this, of course, is to make room for Zherdev, the one-time 4th overall pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets (2003 Entry Draft) who has spent five seasons in the National Hockey League. When it comes to Zherdev, the skill set has never been in question. There is a reason he was a top-five pick, and he is a guy who has scored 20+ goals three times in his career, as well as having reached the 50+ point plateau thrice. However, when speaking of Zherdev the one aspect that does come into question consistently is his focus. How a guy that can look so incredibly good for one, two, even three games, can suddenly look like a guy that has no place playing in the NHL, let alone the AHL is the most puzzling characteristic that could be put to Zherdev’s name. There’s reason to be a little thrown back by this signing, and a helluva large reason to question Zherdev’s commitment – I wouldn’t blame you and I don’t think many other Flyers fans would. After all, it is simply a one year deal for $2 million – it’s not like Zherdev was looking for anything long term here, right? While that all may be true, and while there certainly aren’t many reasons to believe it isn’t true, allow me to try and sway your mindset.

When the Flyers signed Nik Zherdev, I honestly had one thought about it: “Wow, our team as a backchecking unit is going to absolutely suck this year.” Zherdev, coupled with the likes of Jeff Carter, Scott Hartnell, and Danny Briere among others, did not seem like a great group as far as two-way hockey was concerned. However, in his introductory teleconference with the Philadelphia media earlier today, it was like Zherdev had read my mind.

“I’m changing my style and trying to play more defensive zone. I think, right now, I’m two-way player.”

In past years, Nikolai Zherdev and two-way player went together about as well as The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Stanley Cup. However, today, it seemed to me like there could be truth to the statement. NO, not the Leafs and the Cup, of course. Zherdev and two-way hockey. To be honest, Zherdev will have to play two-way hockey and he will have to play hard every night to succeed in this town. Of course, he’ll have to score as well, but that doesn’t concern me. Zherdev’s skills will be there, and the Flyers have their pick of centers (Richards, Carter, Briere, Giroux) that they can team up with him to generate some seriously strong offensive numbers. However, if Zherdev was thinking he was going to come here and give it the “old try”, deciding to show up some nights and take others as just a night-time skate, he was going to be sorely mistaken. Not on this team, a team where Chris Pronger will get in your face the second your focus is off the game; a team where two of the head honchos in Bob Clarke and Paul Holmgren won’t be the friendliest men towards someone who isn’t committed on a consistent basis. It would be hard for me to believe that Zherdev signed here and did not realize all this. So, I will choose to believe that he’s fully aware of what he’s entered into by putting pen to paper and signing with the Flyers.

Zherdev played four seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets, never making the playoffs. He played his final season of NHL action before his one-year hiatus to the KHL in 2008-’09 with the New York Rangers. He fell out of favor in New York, although he did play for the Broadway Blueshirts as the Rangers took the Washington Capitals to 7 games in the first round. Now, however, Zherdev joins the defending Eastern Conference Champions. A team with high hopes, and even higher expectations than anything he’s ever seen in the NHL before.

The Flyers can ill-afford a Ray Emery, part-deux. That’s why they simply won’t get one with Zherdev. He has the potential to be quite a steal, and, given the fact that he’ll actually be playing with the deepest lineup talent-wise he’s ever been a part of in his NHL career, I think he can live up to that potential. Holmgren and Co. would not have gone in on this deal if they didn’t feel it was necessary to add a quality skill guy like Zherdev. They certainly wouldn’t have gone so out of the box to sign a Russian player to a team that rarely sports one if they didn’t feel Zherdev was going to help them this season.

So, let’s shed our tears when Simon (likely) departs from us, but not hold it against Zherdev. Instead embrace a guy that could simply be what so many teams set out for each and every off-season.

The Ultimate Steal.

14
Jun
10

FLYERS: Forsberg Nearly Returned to Orange and Black

I read this yesterday morning on the great European Flyers blog, EuroFlyers, as Teemu made note of the fact that Paul Holmgren had reached out to Peter Forsberg late this season when Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne were each battling injuries and the team was on the verge of missing the playoffs. Thankfully, Foppa declined Homer’s offer – citing a series of health issues – and no one had heard a thing about the ordeal. I didn’t think much of it after reading it, but apparently some bigger news sources – such as this article from TSN – deemed it worthy enough to make headline news. So, I suppose I’ll weigh in on it.

Peter Forsberg almost re-joined the Flyers in March for the stretch run

Of course, if you don’t know already, I am still a little bitter to Forsberg for how he treated the Flyers when he made his comeback to the NHL in 2008, spurning their offer to return to his more famous home of Colorado to play for the Avalanche. With that being said, he was one of my favorite Flyers ever – despite his stay in Philadelphia being brief – and I will always remember his incredible skill and playmaking ability on the ice. Obviously, 2008 didn’t work out for the Avs too well, and the Flyers made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Final that year, so I don’t have much room to complain about Forsberg not being a Flyer at that time. Still, that move by Foppa has bothered me to this day. There were few people more excited than me when the Flyers inked Forsberg out of the lockout. He was still in the last stages of his prime, and had long since been considered one of the best players – and regarded as the best when healthy – in the world. Forsberg’s years with the Flyers didn’t amount to much, and the former top prospect that was dealt to Quebec in the Eric Lindros deal was traded away again by the Flyers, this time to Nashville during the ’06-’07 season – when the Flyers finished with the worst record in the National Hockey League.

Foppa Captained the Orange and Black in 2006-'07

In 2007-’08 he could’ve returned to the Orange and Black. He opted not to. It appears that in 2009-’10, Forsberg once again had the opportunity and turned Philadelphia down. Some may say I’m crazy for being glad he turned it down, but, seriously, an injury riddled Forsberg added to a team that is struggling enough as is at that point? Trust me on this: I saw the guy compete for Team Sweden in Vancouver, and he’s slow. The game has slowed him down; he’s a step behind every play and the puck – which once seemed to find its way to him – suddenly seems to be as far away as possible. Don’t get me wrong here: Peter Forsberg will go down as one of the greatest hockey players not only in my lifetime, but in the history of the sport. However, as far as this season was concerned, I’m pretty sure even if the Flyers had missed out on the playoffs I would have the same feelings towards the idea of bringing him on board at the end. His ankle/foot will never be the same after all the surgical procedures he’s undergone and I don’t think it would’ve been worth it to bring him back for the stretch run this year.

Now, as far as next season is concerned…




The Philly Phour

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