This past Friday, NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) tweeted out a question: Does Simon Gagne have a strong case to be inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame?
Gagne spent 11 of his 15 NHL seasons in a Flyers uniform, and I believe he has a very good shot at being a Flyers HOF member in the near future.
The 22nd overall pick in the 1998 NHL draft made his debut in 1999, and his goal-scoring ability was apparent from the get-go. Netting 20 goals in his rookie season, Gagne was fourth in the Calder rankings and had ten points in 17 playoff games in a Flyers Eastern Conference Finals run.
Gagne improved in each of his next two seasons, scoring 27 goals and 59 points in 69 games during his second season (so much for a sophomore slump). He had his first 30-goal season in 2001-2002 with 33 goals and 66 points and a plus/minus of +31. Gagne had quickly established himself as a key piece on the team and would stay one for the rest of the 2000s.
In his fourth season, Gagne experienced his first big injury. Playing in 46 games, he scored nine goals and put up 27 points in the 2002-2003 regular season. Unfortunately, injuries became a trend for Gagne. He never played a complete 82 game season again in his career.
The 2003-2004 Flyers returned to the ECF with Gagne having a nice bounce back season, scoring 20 goals and 48 points in 80 games. In the ECF against the eventual Stanley Cup champions in Tampa Bay, two big moments come to mind. One being Keith Primeau’s outstanding series and the other being a signature moment for Gagne.
In a do-or-die Game 6, the Flyers were on the brink of being eliminated. In overtime, Gagne found a puck slide across the crease and forced a Game 7 in Tampa Bay. With Gary Thorne on the call and the then First Union Center erupting, it made for a classic Flyers playoff moment.
During the next two seasons, the NHL saw Simon Gagne at the peak of his powers. Even as the Flyers fell out of major playoff contention for the next few years, Gagne became one of the most dangerous snipers in the league. He scored a whopping 47 goals and then 41 goals in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 respectively, pairing nicely with Peter Forsberg during his short time with the orange and black. It is pretty crazy Gagne did not make one All-Star game in his career, especially putting up these numbers.
The injury bug bit Gagne again early into the 2007-2008 season, which saw Gagne play 25 games and then miss the remainder of the regular season. He had 18 points in those 25 games, well on his way to another superb season. Gagne came back the next season and had a great return, putting up the final 30-goal season of his career with 34 goals and was almost a point-per-game play with 74 points in 79 games.
In his final season of his first stint with the Flyers, Gagne played 58 games and had 40 points, by no means was he no longer a serviceable player. However, Gagne flashed his ability and clutch play in the playoff run to the Stanley Cup Final that followed. After returning from injury in Game 4 of the ECSF, Gagne scored an overtime winner that would reverse the Flyers fortunes, coming back from a 3-0 series deficit to upset Boston. Gagne had nine goals and 12 points in 19 games during that run, while also scoring the series-winner in Game 7 of that series. After such an exciting season and his performance in the playoff run, seeing Gagne not be resigned was quite the let down.
Simon Gagne finished his Flyers career with 264 goals and 535 points in 691 games, and it is truly a shame he did not get to 300 career goals, as he finished with 291. Looking at his entire career, Gagne had 601 points and 822 games, and there is no doubt he would have had better numbers if some of his prime years had not been diminished by injuries. An original draft choice of the team and a fan favorite, Gagne has earned his spot in the Flyers Hall of Fame.