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.

Video: This Kane-to-Panarin goal is all sorts of ridiculous

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When people were arguing against Artemi Panarin‘s Calder case, they often discounted his work because of Patrick Kane‘s brilliance (at least when they weren’t focusing on age questions).

It always felt a little unfair to Panarin.

Do we blame a great wide receiver playing with an adept quarterback? Sure, it’s an interesting discussion to have, but it seems fairly clear that there’s a symbiotic relationship between Panarin and Kane.

One could see that plainly in a 1-0 goal for the Chicago Blackhawks against the Pittsburgh Penguins that … admittedly was driven by Kane’s almost audacious creativity and skill.

But still, Panarin has 26 goals this season because he’s really good, too. This season has been a nice showcase for such thoughts, and a reminder that – like most great combinations – they make each other better.

(Seriously though, Kane was out of his mind there.)

‘Old Time Hockey’ video game takes a bit of an early beating from reviewers

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From the sound of things, “Old Time Hockey” is a video game with a lot of heart, but maybe not the skills to make it to the big time.

While “NHL 17” is pumped out by publishing giant EA Sports, this title is very much an independent labor of love by a company called V7 Entertainment. Puck Daddy’s Sean Leahy provided a great interview with the developers here. It’s worth noting that the game reminds one of 8-bit titles in another way: lacking an NHL license, these teams are instead fictional. This isn’t necessarily a drawback as much as it provides the title with its own unique “flavor.”

It’s hard not to get behind a scrappy development, especially in an age where sports video game options are so scarce. Some leagues barely see any licensed games any longer (see: the MLB, which feels woefully misrepresented these days), and the arcade-style that “Blades of Steel” and other old-school games popularized is even tougher to come by.

Combine these factors with an aesthetic inspired by “Slap Shot” and “Old Time Hockey” seems like it could really scratch an itch … except, it sounds like the puck missed the net.

So far, reviews are pretty mixed for the title, which is currently on PC and Playstation 4 (with planned releases on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch).

While there are a few good reviews here and there, the general reception is of disappointment.

A Sporting News review states that “the promising premise falls apart quickly.” Game Informer slams a “slew-footed story mode.” PC Gamer notes that, with EA not releasing an NHL game on that platform since 2008, there was a need here … but it wasn’t met.

Does that mean there’s no fun to be had? Not necessarily, but it’s a bummer that the game might be off the mark, especially since V7 Entertainment seems to have its heart in the right place.

Then again, maybe those who want that “NHL 94” fix merely need to dig a little. As this Vice article points out, there’s still an active community playing the sort of game that scratches the itch that “Old Time Hockey” – perhaps – can’t quite reach.

WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks at Penguins – Wednesday Night Rivalry

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The latest edition of NBCSN’s Wednesday Night Rivalry presents quite the treat: the Chicago Blackhawks at the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Both teams are at 103 standings points and each squad already punched a ticket to the playoffs. Even so, they’re dealing with mini-slumps that they’d like to work out tonight.

For all we know, this could be a preview of what would be one extremely fun, high-profile 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Either way, it’s a showcase of two premiere franchises brimming with star power.

You can watch on NBCSN, online and via NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream.

Yes, NHL will share protected, available player lists for expansion draft

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We can debate all day how much the NHL, Vegas Golden Knights and others involved really want to do this, but they’re making the right choice with the expansion draft nonetheless. The league will make protected and available players lists available at the same time they’re shared with teams, according to NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika.

(The NHL tweeted out as much, too.)

Could this lead to feelings being hurt or perhaps even certain sneaky deals being scuttled? Perhaps, but those are headaches that management should be expected to absorb.

The bottom line is that an expansion draft is a dream come true for armchair GMs, rumor enthusiasts, fantasy sports fans and … really, just about anyone interested in hockey. It would be a bewildering decision to try to keep all of this information locked down, even for a league that frequently garners a reputation for choosing comfort over entertainment value.

Cotsonika reports that such lists will probably be made available on June 18, though that isn’t set in stone. NHL.com’s Dan Rosen also backs this up as a possible date.

(If you’re the type to take off work if a trade deadline was exciting, you might want to start drumming up excuses/putting aside vacation time/practicing your best “I’m sick” voice just in case …)

Cap Friendly provides a handy timeline for the expansion draft process: