If it happens I want it to happen fast. As the patch is ripped off the wound so it won't hurt that much. Since last night when the infamous tweets about "Gagne playing his last game as a Flyer" appeared I was a nervous wreck. It's been taking too long and this anticipation of the big trade, the Flyers are most likely to make soon, is becoming unbearable. I barely slept, I'm beyond nervous and I'm on the verge of tears while writing this post. You might smirk and think that I'm overreacting.
I probably am, but you need to know one thing. Simon is the reason why I became a Flyers fan. Why I have two teams that I genuinely love, instead of just one. I always loved Gags and he literally brought some of the orange into my veins. All the Flyers gear that I possess have #12 attached and he is pretty much one of the main themes in my bedroom (with all the pictures, posters and hockey cards around). I'm not going to pretend anything though, I haven't called myself a Philly fan until the mid of the 08-09 season. Which makes me look really bad, among such fans like most of you are, following this team for decades. You might also call me a bandwagoner if you feel the need to. I wouldn't mind. I'm used to that.
With all what I said above I just wanted to outline why this most likely will be the saddest day of my life as a hockey fan. Not even losing the Cup in Game 6 this June was that heartbreaking as this probably will be. Everybody (from what I've read and heard so far) is focusing on why Simon should be traded, why this would be a good move by the team. I would like to look at it from my own (without a doubt biased one) perspective. So after the jump, I would like to try to bring some reasons why he should stay.
First thing to focus on would be the player's hockey skills and abilities, naturally. As people like to point out, Simon was one of the main reasons why we managed to rewrite NHL history archives and come back from being down 0-3 in a series. Yes, the Boston series. I'm not going to say that he single-handedly got us to the ECF, this is a team sport, but you can't deny that hadn't it been for Gagne, we would have seen totally different and much shorter playoff journey. Even though he didn't score that much in the rest of the season, you can't say he was invisible or useless. Despite being in the worst pain he ever experienced in his career, he always did his best out there. He was always the first guy to come back in his own end, to back check, to help out his teammates. He blocked shots, he dived to get the puck out of the zone, he was always out there, playing his heart out. This, besides his indisputable offensive skills, is something we should value and give him credit for. He's really one of the best two-way players you find in the league and also a great penalty killer. That is, if he is healthy. But that applies to every single hockey player.
My next point was briefly mentioned in the previous paragraph. That would be Simon's heart. There are only few guys that exemplify a devotion and a dedication to the team as Gagne does. His love for the Flyers is something that makes him very special. It is something that makes him suck up some pain, go out there and if it's needed, play on the broken foot. He plays for the team, for his teammates, for the fans, for the joy of the sport itself. He's not a hockey player for glory or money. With that said, I am more than 100% sure he would accept a paycut if it was needed from him. He loves being here just like we love having him here.
NTC. Simple three letters. They have a meaning, of course, but to me it seems they are not handled the way they should be. In my opinion, if team offers you a NTC it should mean they value you very much and like having you on their team. They want to show you that they appreciate what you have done so far and they won't treat you as a business item. It should give you the right to come and say "I love playing here. I don't want to go anywhere else." and they should not try to make you think differently. Is this always the case? Hardly. Most of the times I saw players being forced to waive off their NTC, even though they had no intent to do so at first. Team managers always try and usually find a way to walk around it. I am sure that if Simon is asked or pushed to waive his, he will. And that is, if you ask me, a wrong way to treat your player. A player that has been part of the organisation for 11 years. Player that with all he's done deserves to have his own banner in the Wachovia Center (sorry, the new name is just icky), to have his number retire and get another shot to win the Cup with a team he fell in love with the second he became a part of it.
There was a lot of talking if we should trade Carter instead. It could be the right move as much as it could be the wrong move. Same applies to possible Gagne trade. You never know if you made the right decision until you see the consequences of your making. And we won't see them until the season goes underway. Gagne can get injured again, or he can click and show us some OMGagne magic. As well as Carter can be a monster or underachieve. You never know. I am one of those who would rather see Cartsy gone than Gags but I'm definitely not saying that trading Carter would be all right and good thing to do while trading Gagne would be all wrong and total failure by Holmgren.
As I implied, everything has both sides. I only tried to focus on the good one, when writing about Gagne. Because as you probably already figured, I love Simon Gagne more than anything or anyone in this league, heck in the whole hockey world.