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Simon Gagne: “It’s like a slap in the face”

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They opted to pursue Dan Cleary instead:

Barely four years ago, Simon Gagné was scoring 34 goals and was considered one of the most talented forwards of the NHL. Today, 33-year-old Gagné is in Quebec City, waiting for a club to give him a chance to return.

“All summer, the Philadelphia Flyers kept hinting that they wanted to offer me a new contract and I even told Robert Sauvé, my agent, not to negotiate with other teams,” said Gagné. “We trusted them. We put all our eggs in one basket and we got caught. We never thought we’d be stuck in this situation at this time of the year…”

Gagné kept hoping to return with the Flyers up until recently. “When I heard [Tuesday] that they had given a contract to Dan Cleary, it was like a slap in the face. I’m disappointed. I knew that hockey was a business, but with all the positive discussions we had with the GM Paul Holmgren, I can’t believe I’m not back with them.”

The Québecker admits that the last few years weren’t easy. He didn’t play more than 63 games in a season since 2009. On the other hand, he participated in 38 of the 48 games last year.

“I understand that the GMs are being careful because I didn’t play a lot two years ago after my concussion and my neck surgery, but I’m healthy right now and I feel great on the ice when I train with the (Quebec) Remparts. I really had a good summer training regimen and it’s a shame because I feel much better than I did in the last few years; it’s been a while since I’ve wanted to train like that. I’m 33, I’ve got good hockey to give.”

Gagné says he found his passion for hockey once again after the trade that sent him from the Los Angeles Kings to the Flyers last February.

“I finished the season with a bang with Philadelphia during the last 12 games of the season. I played on the first line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. I finally found players who I could make plays with. It wasn’t as easy to get motivated in Los Angeles, where I played on the fourth line with teammates whose roles were to dump the puck in the opponent’s zone. I wasn’t having fun playing in Los Angeles, when I didn’t play on the fourth line, I’d be in the press-box questioning myself.”

Gagné collected 8 points in his last 13 games. He rarely played less than 18 minutes each game, sometimes even 20.

“I’m only 33, but I have a lot of experience, and that counts for something. I always achieved what was asked of me during the playoffs, that’s when the veterans can really shine through. I can help a team.”

The 6’1, 194 pounds forward would obviously prefer to have a signed contract in his possession before showing up at a training camp, but he seems ready to show up for tryouts, just like Ryan Whitney, Guillaume Lantendresse and Hal Gill. He wouldn’t say no to the Canadiens.

“I want to be on the ice. If the Canadiens are interested, we’re going to listen, of course. It’s a club that seemed interested at the beginning of the off-season, but the team seemed well-balanced at the time. Has the situation changed?”

Robert Sauvé says there are frequent discussions with some NHL General Managers about his client.

“We talk to teams every day. Right now, the clubs are very interested in their youth, but that can change during the training camp according to their young ones’ performances.

Sauvé is more or less surprised to see as many jobless veterans.

“The salary cap changes everything. A lot of teams are already over the cap and the ones that still have space are waiting to see what the first group will do for some deals. That’s what is slowing down the whole process.”


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If the Canadiens get him, watch-out. They've already signed Briere, that would give them 2 of the best playoff performers in the league.

Sure these guys are small and don't tear it up during the regular season, but they always seem to be the best players in the post-season, year after year. Both are around the point-per-game area in the playoffs over their long careers and have scored huge goals at big times. Don't judge a player by their age or regular season success, but what they do when it counts the most, and guys like Gagne and Briere are the best at that.

Sign them cheaply, reap the benefits in the playoffs. Personally I'd much rather have Gagne on our 3rd or 4th line wing for 1M than rookies like Jensen or Shinkaruk who will more likely fade away when the pressure rises.

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