Athlete of the Decade #7 Simon Gagneby Eric Schwartz
There have been some great players to don a Flyers uniform over the past 10 years. From Peter Forsberg to Keith Primeau, there has been no shortage of stars. Only one, however, has contributed to the team year after year for an entire decade.
That man, of course, is Simon Gagne.
Gagne was called up by the Flyers prior to the 1999-2000 season and wasted no time making an impact, scoring 20 goals and dishing out 28 assists in his first pro season. He made the All-Rookie team that year and had the fan base in his back pocket.
One of the biggest goals of his career came in the 2003-04 Eastern Conference finals.
With the Flyers trailing three-games-to-two against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Gagne scored an overtime goal to send the series on to a seventh game. The Flyers lost that seventh game, but Gagne’s contributions were not soon forgotten. His best goal came earlier in the series, along with a great – although cheesy – piece of commentary by Bill Clement, seen here:
As great as Gagne was in the first few years of his career, it wasn’t until the 2005-06 season that he became a star around the NHL.
Paired on the same line with Forsberg and Mike Knuble, Gagne exploded with a 79 point season that included a career-high 47 goals. Gagne followed that up with a 41-goal effort the following season.
Unfortunately injuries have kept Gagne from reaching his full potential the last few years.
In 2007-08 Gagne appeared in only 25 games and has played in only 12 this season due to various injuries, including suffering serious concussions.
While he is remembered here for his decade-long success with the Flyers, Gagne has also been a very good international play, skating for Team Canada in two Olympics.
Skilled and speedy, Gagne provided must-watch hockey before he was beseeched by injuries. Though he can still deliver on the ice and is just 29, Gagne’s best hockey appears to be behind him. How long he will remain a Flyer is unknown, as the five-year contract he signed in 2006 will expire next season and his injury problems could cause the team to go in a different direction.
Regardless of how the rest of his career turns out, Gagne will be forever remembered as a Flyer – and a really good one.