Simon Gagne Finally Gets His Cup
At around 8 p.m. Pacific standard time on June 11th, Simon Gagne had finally earned the right to hoist the Stanley Cup over his head.
Despite a series of unfortunate events that had spanned several seasons and a near tumble when he tried to pick up the Cup for the first time, Gagne had finally reached the peak of the hockey summit where he rightfully belonged.
Drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, he made the team out of training camp prior to the 1999-2000 season. Gagne went on to register 48 points in 80 games, earning a spot on the NHL All-Rookie Team in the process.
Over the course of his time in Philadelphia, Gagne was a five-time 50+ point scorer, in addition to accumulating 524 total points in 664 regular-season games. He was also a key contributor during the playoffs, scoring 47 points in 90 career postseason appearances.
During his ten years with the Flyers, Gagne was a fan favorite and was known for being a class act on and off the ice. This was substantiated in 2005 when he was presented with the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association’s “Good Guy” Award.
When he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in July of 2010, it came as a lesson as to the cruel nature of the salary cap era in the post-lockout NHL.
Gagne spent one season with the Lightning, scoring 17 goals and 23 assists during the regular season and adding on five more goals during the playoffs, which saw the team come one goal short of reaching the Stanley Cup Final.
It potentially could have been Gagne’s last shot at hockey’s holy grail.
On July 2nd, 2011, Gagne signed a two-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings and had a strong start to the 2011-12 season, tallying 17 points in his first 34 games with the Kings.
Unfortunately, he suffered a concussion during a contest against the Phoenix Coyotes on December 26th that kept him sidelined for the rest of the regular season as well as much of the post-season.
During a dominant playoff run from the Kings, it became increasingly evident that the team had a strong chance of winning the NHL Championship. After jumping out to a 3-0 series lead over the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Final, it became clear that Gagne’s team was going to win the Cup.
However, there was a catch for Gagne.
By only playing 34 regular-season games, he hadn’t reached the number of games required for a player to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup (41). Playing at least one game in the postseason was Gagne’s only chance to have his name etched into hockey immortality -- a chance granted to him by Kings head coach Darryl Sutter, who put Gagne in the lineup for Game 3.
He went on to play in Games 4, 5, and 6, and though he didn’t register a point in any of those games, he was on the ice when the final horn sounded in Game 6 as the long-awaited celebration began at the Staples Center.
After a great career, hampered only by injuries, Simon Gagne finally has the Stanley Cup he justly deserves. While he fumbled the Cup on his first attempt to hoist it over his head, it was strangely fitting, considering the adversity he had faced over the past few seasons.
Despite the setbacks, trades and team changes, Gagne consistently dedicated himself to the game. And while the Cup may have slightly slipped his grasp on Monday night, it will now be firmly tied to him forever.