After a 14-year career in the NHL, Simon Gagne officially announced his retirement from the NHL Tuesday.
While the past few years of his career were difficult — he bounced around from Tampa Bay to Los Angeles to Philadelphia and finally to Boston in his final three seasons — Gagne, 35, retires with quite the trophy case and more than a few memorable moments in his career.
The Ste. Foy, Que., native was a first-round pick of the Flyers in 1998, taken with the 22nd overall selection. With his career officially coming to an end Tuesday, Gagne finishes as the eighth-highest scoring player to come out of the 1998 draft with 291 goals and 601 points over his 14 seasons.
Without question, Gagne’s best years came in Philadelphia and it’s no surprise that moments from his time with the Flyers make up more than half of his top-five career moments.
5. Gagne hoists the Stanley Cup as a King — June 11, 2012
After spending 10 seasons in Philadelphia, Gagne moved on from the Flyers in a trade that sent him to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He only spent one season in Tampa Bay, however, and in the summer of 2011, he signed a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Kings. Gagne’s presence on the Kings came at just the right time, as he became a veteran, bottom-six piece for the Kings during the regular season, scoring seven goals and 17 points in 34 games before being sidelined by a concussion.
Gagne would finally get back into the lineup in the post-season, however, and his timing couldn’t have been better. After the Kings had taken a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup final, Gagne worked his way back onto the ice in time for Game 3. While he wouldn’t register a point in Games 3, 4, 5 or 6, he did manage to muster a few shots.
Gagne hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time in his career following the Kings’ 6-1 blowout of the New Jersey Devils in Game 6.
4. Natural hat trick helps Flyers blowout Rangers — Dec. 30, 2009
Netting a hat trick isn’t the most common feat, but it’s more rare for a player to notch the elusive natural hat trick — three consecutive goals. During one of his final seasons of his first run as a Philadelphia Flyer, Gagne managed to score a natural hat trick in a late December contest against the New York Rangers as the Flyers routed the Blueshirts.
Gagne only managed to score three hat tricks in his entire career, so that he has one of the natural variety under his belt is impressive. As a player who scored 40 goals twice, Gagne always had a knack for the net, but his natural hat trick came during a campaign in which he only managed 17 goals in 58 games.
3. Gagne scores his 600th point — Dec. 1, 2014
Before his retirement, Gagne gave the NHL one final shot after taking a year off in 2013-14, signing a tryout contract to join the Boston Bruins in training camp. The then-34-year-old Gagne made the team out of camp and signed a one-year deal with the Bruins. Though his season would come to an end unexpectedly after his father fell ill in December, Gagne was with the Bruins long enough to notch his 600th career point in what would be the fourth-from-last game of his career.
While other players have reached milestones with a secondary helper or a lucky bounce, Gagne notched his 600th point with a third-period tally. With the puck behind the net, he darted to open space and took a perfect pass from Daniel Paille which Gagne knocked home.
2. OT winner sparks historic Flyers comeback, Gagne caps series with Game 7 winner — May 7, 2010 & May 14, 2010
Gagne and the Bruins have more history than his 600th point, however. In 2010, Gagne was the catalyst for one of Philadelphia’s greatest playoff moments and a big factor in the worst post-season collapse in Boston’s history.
With Gagne on the shelf to open the series, the Bruins had taken the first three games of the second-round matchup against the Flyers. For Game 4, however, Gagne came back into the lineup and his impact was immediate. Boston had Philadelphia on the ropes as the fourth game of the series headed to overtime, but it was Gagne who would play the hero.
The Flyers’ Game 4 victory would spark one of the most memorable playoff series victories in NHL history. In Game 5, Gagne scored two goals as Philadelphia brought the series to 3-2 for Boston. The next game, Gagne’s primary assist led to a Mike Richards tally which spurred the Flyers to a 2-1 victory in Game 6. And then, in Game 7 with the chance to complete the unthinkable comeback, it was Gagne who put the final nail in the Bruins’ coffin.
The Flyers would go on to defeat the Montreal Canadiens in five games in the Eastern Conference final before falling in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup final.
Gold medal for Canada — Feb. 24, 2002
In announcing his retirement, Gagne said that the greatest moment of his career was winning the gold medal with Team Canada at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. We’re not one to argue — especially not when he’s right.
At the 2002 Olympics, Gagne was the youngest member of a Canadian roster that included Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic, Eric Lindros, Steve Yzerman and Scott Niedermayer. Even still, there were few players on the team who outperformed Gagne on the scoresheet. Over the tournament’s six games, the 21-year-old Gagne scored one goal and four points, good for the fourth-best point total on the roster.
In the gold medal game, Gagne assisted on Jarome Iginla’s first-period goal. Canada would skate to a 5-2 victory and Gagne, who turned 22 five days after the tournament’s completion, was the first player to greet goaltender Martin Brodeur.
Three years earlier, Gagne had been a force for the Canadian offense at the World Junior Championships as Canada fell short in the gold medal game, and his play at the 2002 tournament helped Canada break a 50-year gold medal drought at the Olympics. Gagne would help Team Canada to the 2004 World Cup championship two years later, but that would be the final time he reached the top of the podium with Team Canada.