On July 19th, 2010, the Flyers' fan base took a major blow. Paul Holmgren shipped then longest tenured Flyer Simon Gagne to Tampa Bay for Matt Walker and a 4th round pick. Some fans were angry, some were sad, and some were just didn't know how to feel. Gagne, the long time fan favorite, was no longer a Flyer and was now a member of the Lightning. Many wished their goodbyes to Gagne through articles and tribute videos, assuming we'd never get so see the beloved Flyer play for the orange and black again.
But two and a half years later, the unthinkable happened. Gagne was traded back to Philadelphia. Many fans were on cloud nine, while some questioned the deal based on Gagne regressing in recent seasons. But the fact of the matter is this: The most loved, respected and true Flyer came home.
Gagne may not be the 42-goal scorer he was in 2006-07, or the Olympic caliber player he once was, but there is no doubting that he belongs in the orange and black. Just like Saku Koivu will always be a Canadien, and Jarome Iginla will always be a Flame, Gagne will forever be remembered as the biggest fan favorite of this century.
Will Gagne be an offensive juggernaut? No. Will he score 30 plus goals in seasons to come? Absolutely not. But one thing you can never take away from Gagne is his effort night in and night out and the class he shows on and off the ice. Gagne truly showed his class when he waived his no trade clause in the summer of 2010, when he really didn't want to leave Philly. He did it because he knew the team felt it was the best move. I suppose Karma really is a thing.
Any way you look at it, no Flyer fan can be unhappy with the return of #12. He belongs in Philadelphia, and nobody can deny that. As I said in this (http://www.broadstreethockey.com/2010/7/20/1578043/thank-you-simon-gagne#storyjump) article I wrote two and a half years ago, Gagne should be the next Flyer to have his number raised to the rafters once his career comes to a close.
So as I wrote two years ago in the article linked above; Thank you Simon Gagne. Thank you for what you have done for the Flyers, and thank you for what you will do with the Flyers in the future. Welcome back Gags!