Transcript: Simon Gagne on his return to Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 14: Simon Gagne #12 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates in his first game against his former team the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on October 14 2010 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA -- So, let's talk Simon Gagne.

We all knew it was going to be an emotional night for both the fans and for Gags. We all knew there was going to be a video tribute to him at some point.

Many people thought it was going to be a pre-game video honoring number 12's time in Philadelphia. Instead, it came during the first TV timeout of the first period. You couldn't hear most of what was said because the cheers were loud from the very second the video started.

Both teams stood and tapped their sticks throughout, while the entire crowd gave him a rousing ovation. Probably the only person sitting in the entire building, besides the press box, was Gagne himself. It was a fantastic moment that he'll never forget.

He spoke with reporters after tonight's game against the Flyers (duh, of course he did). Special thanks to Stephen Whyno of Philly Sports Daily, who was in the scrum for us. He transcribed much of what you see after the jump. Also, see the tribute video the Flyers put together for Gags below.

 

On the ovation from the fans

It was actually a nice tribute from the Flyers and ovation from the fans. Even on the warm-up when I jumped on the ice [there were] some cheers, a couple nice signs, ‘Welcome back home.’ That was a tough one to go through – a lot of emotion. That video was something.

They told me before the game, a reporter told me they were gonna do something. I was kinda ready for it, but it was still hard to watch – a lot of emotion there. But I’m glad at least it’s over now.

I cannot ask for more. We got the win at the end, and it was fun. The fans were awesome. I was not worried about getting booed. I had some reporter ask me if I was gonna get booed and stuff like that in Tampa Bay. I said, ‘Oh, I don’t think so; they’re pretty good fans.’ It was fun, with the two points at the end.

It was like, I don’t wanna cry. That was really tough to watch. A lot of emotion went through. Everything started here. I had my chance to start my career here in Philly as a rookie - they showed my first goal and from that point on all the big goals that I scored with them in the playoffs. That was hard. It’s still hard to think about it, but I like I said, it’s fun that this one is over. I’m not gonna lie to you, it was hard to sleep this afternoon. But I just wanna say thanks to all the fans out there. They were awesome, it was good to see them again – they’re always gonna be in my heart. And thanks to the Flyers too.

On being 3-0

Anytime the team wins, that’s what you want. Especially with the team we have here – a lot of new players, a lot of things to prove, a lot of change from Steve Yzerman, the coaching staff and Guy Boucher, the trades they made this summer and the signings that they made, too, for free agents. We like our team; I think we can do a lot of great things, and that definitely helps when you start this way. It’s a tough season. If you start slowly, you might get short at the end if you wanna make the playoffs.

On his Tampa teammates

It’s awesome. They were joking before the game that I was going to put something on the board. But they knew how big this game was for me, and they were really, really impressed by the way the fans cheered for me with the video in the first period. They said they never see that, and I think that helped them a little bit to want this game a little bit more for me. And it was awesome to say thanks to them - they played a big game for me and for the team.

On skating onto ice after tribute

The coach already called me – I was up for the faceoff. Turned out pretty good. I wave and jump on the ice at the same time. It was a good time to do it, but I was ready. I was supposed to go on the ice for the faceoff after that, so it was good timing.

On how he hopes he’s remembered in Philadelphia

I don’t know. It’s hard as a player. I’m not done playing. I’m playing for another team. Maybe at one point when I’m gonna be over with playing hockey, maybe it will be time to talk about it a little bit more. You don’t really realize how important I was until getting traded and coming back here with a different team and get that reaction.

If you play for the Flyers your whole career, you might not have a chance to have an ovation like that. So you realize that you were a big part of their life for 10 years, and that’s very touching. I think they will remember the good things that I did for the Flyers. And like I said, they’re always gonna be in my heart. Everything started here, and Philly’s always gonna be a special place for me.

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