Being traded is one of the most difficult things for any professional athlete to deal with when it happens. In the case of Simon Gagne, it was a bit more difficult and emotionally draining considering he had a no-trade clause. While the Flyers did their due diligence in being up front and proper with goal-scoring left wing, it doesn’t make the process any less difficult. For Gagne it was made a bit more difficult because the Flyers were the only team he’s played for during his NHL career. Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly reflects on Gagne’s Flyers career, why he was special for everyone in the organization and how difficult the process leading up to the trade was difficult for him.
For the past several weeks, Gagne has kept to himself, even avoiding teammates, amid intense speculation that he would be traded to rid the Flyers of his $5.25 million salary and clear some cap space for next fall.
Some of his closest friends said he wouldn’t talk about the rumors because it bothered him that much.
Though he had a no-traded clause, Gagne agreed to waive his clause over the July 4 holiday weekend for certain teams, the Los Angeles Kings being one of them.
Gagne later denied waiving his no-trade during a television interview for RDS in Canada. What wasn’t said was he had agreed in advance to “certain” teams, according to multiple sources.
It’s difficult, without a doubt, when all that you’ve ever known is now, by design or by circumstance, being changed. In this case, it was circumstance. Gagne made more money than the Flyers could sustain after they signed Russian returnee Nikolai Zherdev. As John Boruk from CSN Philly says, Zherdev’s signing was the writing on the wall that it was time for Gagne to move on and his thought process into where he wanted to go next.
Ironically, he didn’t want to be with a team in a similar situation the Flyers had put themselves for a couple of reasons. Primarily, he is not looking at this as a one-year rental. That may or may not be the situation in Tampa Bay, but he wanted to know that there would be plenty of cap room to sign a multi-year contract past this upcoming season.
Surprisingly, the Detroit Red Wings had expressed interest and wanted to add Gagne, but with less than $4 million in cap space, the idea of joining one of the most successful franchises in hockey didn’t seem too appealing. The same can be said for his hometown Montreal Canadiens.
Ironically, it was conversations with former Red Wing and Tampa GM Steve Yzerman sold him on the idea that he could become part of the Lightning’s rebuilding process, and Gagne feels they are a playoff team that will only get better.
A lot of people feel that things work out for a reason, and certainly the combination of the Flyers decisions and Gagne’s resolve lead to this end game for both sides. The Flyers are in a bit of an ugly spot through all this. If Zherdev doesn’t work out well, fans will go ape that the team signed him and essentially gave away Simon Gagne for nothing (no offense to Matt Walker).
It’ll be made even worse if Gagne has a huge year with the Lightning playing along side Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis on a revamped French Connection line in Tampa Bay. One way or another, someone in Philadelphia is getting booed. Whether it’s someone on the ice or GM Paul Holmgren watching from the team suite remains to be seen.