(Québec) Simon Gagné should play with the Philadelphia Flyers for at least another year. If it were up to him, his contract would already be signed. But Paul Holmgren, Flyers’ General Manager, is taking his time while other teams show their interest in the Québec-native forward.
More than a week after the beginning of the NHL’s Free Agency, the 33-year-old left-wing born in Sainte-Foy currently residing in Lac-Beauport remains unsigned. He waits and lets his manager, Robert Sauvé, handle the situation.
“Philadelphia is where I want to play next season. It’s natural for me and my family, on top of it being where I’ve started my career. I’d love to finish it there, but in the hockey world, you don’t always have a choice”, observed Gagné, Friday, during his annual golf tournament for Leucan at the La Faune golf club, in Charlesbourg.
Gagné has 13 seasons in the NHL under his belt, 597 points in 799 regular games. The product of the Québec Remparts played his first 10 years in the NHL donning the Flyers’ orange uniform in addition to the last 27 games of the past season. In between, he spent two and a half years with the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Los Angeles Kings. He won his only Stanley Cup with the Kings, in 2012.
Hard years nonetheless. He admits having hard feelings for Holmgren for trading him in July 2010, twenty-four hours after his “best playoffs of my career”. Wearing the Lightning jersey made him feel like he was “wearing the wrong jersey. It didn’t work!” His reunion with his ex-teammates from Philadelphia Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, with the Kings, helped him feel less alone.
He is also the father of two young children, aged four and two. Since last September, his son was being shifted from daycare to daycare, from Québec during the lockout to Los Angeles when the season started to finish the year in Philadelphia. Daddy is looking for some stability for his young family, and Philadelphia is a familiar territory.
“Maybe I’m too loyal to one team and that’s why things aren’t moving. But we had a good discussion again with them [Thursday] and I’m confident with what has been said. Things will become clear in the next few days.”
The Flyers are choked by the salary cap. Gagné admits being ready to accept less money than what other teams could offer, “to make sacrifices to fit under the salary cap. But I won’t play for nothing. I know my market value”, assured Gagné who says he recieved news from half a dozen other teams, especially from the Western Conference. There were no formal discussions with the Montreal Canadiens.
He now works with one-year contracts. He will turn 34 in February and he always thought about retiring around the age of 35 or 36. But hanging up his skates isn’t in his plans for now. He is on the ice once a week with his son and still feels very much at home. “I have the energy, the motivation, and health”, he recaps, smiling.