Simon Gagne's reaction to being traded

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simongagne6.jpgBeing 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.

Hitchcock believes Blues’ Allen is ‘locked up mentally’

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues makes the third period save against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on December 8, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Things were already rough for the St. Louis Blues and their goalies (particularly still-pretty-newly crowned No. 1 Jake Allen) heading into Thursday, but the Washington Capitals really highlighted those issues in a 7-3 thrashing.

Blues fans and management must be wondering, then: what’s wrong with their goalies, especially with Allen? Head coach Ken Hitchcock seems resigned to allowing him to fight through it, if nothing else.

“There’s a lot going on right now. … He’s kind of locked up mentally and he’s going to have to fight through this,” Hitchock said, according to Lou Korac of NHL.com. “What we see at practice, we like. That’s why we put him in quite frankly.”

Alex Pietrangelo did the typical deflecting thing, nothing that this is a “team” and that there are “no individuals.”

Still, Hitchcock’s longer press conference makes you wonder how much trust there is in Allen and Carter Hutton.

From Hitch’s perspective, it sure sounds like he believes that the Blues are over-correcting to try to limit “goals, shots.” By trying to do too much, they might be putting themselves in bad positions. And that might stem from a lack of confidence in the guys in net, or in the team’s work in their own zone overall.

Let’s be honest. As much as we can play chicken-or-the-egg as far as a defense’s impact on a goalie, it’s tough to explain away save percentages under .900 in the modern NHL. At some point, your team needs more stops.

With the races for the lower spots in the Western Conference’s playoff picture seemingly tightening up, the Blues don’t have a ton of time to figure this out.

Capitals shine glaring light on Blues’ goalie woes

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues makes a save during the first period against the San Jose Sharks in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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If you’re reaction to the headline “Something is off about the St. Louis Blues” was “Yeah, their goaltending,” then Thursday only emboldened that opinion.

It wasn’t just that the Washington Capitals bombarded the Blues by a score of 7-3. It’s that they really didn’t need to fire a whole lot of shots on goal to get to seven.

Here’s a harsh rule of thumb: when both of your goalies play in a game and each one barely makes more saves than goals allowed, that’s an awful night. Take a look at what Jake Allen and Carter Hutton went through:

Allen: six saves, four goals allowed in 25:11 time on ice
Hutton: five saves, three goals allowed in 35:49

Allen got pulled from the contest twice, by the way. He’s been pulled from four games since Dec. 30. Woof.

Even before these horrendous performances, the Blues goalies have been shaky. Hutton came into tonight with an ugly .898 save percentage; Allen wasn’t much better with a .900 mark.

Those are the type of numbers that would make Dallas Stars fans cringe, or at least experience some uncomfortable familiarity.

Now, is it all on Hutton and Allen? Much like with the Stars’ embattled goalies, much of the struggles probably come down to a team struggling in front of them.

Even so, if you assign more of the blame to Allen and Hutton, nights like this Capitals thrashing definitely strengthen your argument. Yikes.

Rangers overwhelm Leafs, make life pretty easy for Lundqvist in win

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 19:  Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers faces a shot in the warm-up prior to play against the Toronto Maple Leafs in an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on January 19, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Heading into Thursday, many were wondering how the New York Rangers will handle Henrik Lundqvist‘s struggles. Instead, the focus shifted to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ difficulties, perhaps specifically in dealing with Morgan Rielly‘s absence.

The Rangers handily won this one 5-2, at least giving Lundqvist the win. He wasn’t especially busy, stopping 23 out of 25 shots, so you can probably file his story under “To be continued.”

Lundqvist wasn’t oblivious to his team’s impressive overall play.

Really, it was all about the waves of attackers the Rangers can send at opponents and the trouble that caused for the Maple Leafs. It wasn’t the easiest night for Frank Corrado, in particular, who took a couple costly penalties.

The Rangers’ next two games come in a road contest vs. the Red Wings on Sunday and a home game against the Kings on Monday. Perhaps those matches will serve as a better barometer for where Lundqvist’s really at, as he passed tonight’s test … but it wasn’t a particularly difficult one.

So, is Mike Condon actually really good? He certainly was against Columbus

OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 8: Mike Condon #1 of the Ottawa Senators stands at the bench during a break in a game against the Edmonton Oilers at Canadian Tire Centre on January 8, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Considering their numbers heading in, many were perplexed when the Ottawa Senators essentially replaced Andrew Hammond with Mike Condon. Now many are perplexed by just how strong Condon’s often been for Ottawa.

Thursday might stand as the prime example that this guy could be better than many expected.

The Columbus Blue Jackets dominated much of the play, generating a 42-28 shots on goal advantage, but Ottawa ended up winning 2-0 tonight.

Condon already came into tonight with a solid save percentage (.915 before this shutout), and he’s now won four of his last five games. Three of his four career shutouts have come this season.

Ignoring his one relief appearance with Pittsburgh this season for the sake of simplicity, just consider his tough times with Montreal last season. He went 21-25-6 with a shaky .903 save percentage.

This marks just his 21st start and 23rd appearance of this season, so it’s not a guaranteee for future results. Still … it’s another example that goalies are as just about as unpredictable as they are crucial to a team’s fate.

More and more, it seems like Condon might just be a difference-maker, and in the positive sense this time around.