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September 16, 2015

Simon Gagne Retires

Simon Gagne announced his retirement Tuesday after playing 14 NHL seasons.
Gagne, whose time in the league was plagued by injuries, put up 291 goals and 310 assists for 601 points in 822 career regular-season games for the Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins.
There was a time where Gagne seemed to be emerging as the best left winger in the game, but injuries decimated that promise.
The Ste. Foy, Quebec native was the 22nd pick in the 1998 draft and broke into the league as a 19-year-old. He was fourth in Calder Trophy voting as rookie of the year when he had 20 goals and 28 assists in 1999-2000.
Gagne was a 40-goal scorer twice and scored 37 goals in 109 playoff games. He was injured for much of the 2012 playoffs but was still able to lift the Cup with the Kings.
"It is the dream of all hockey players that play in the National Hockey League," Gagne said. "But not only that, when you take that Cup, it's all the sacrifice you did when you were younger, what your parents did and all the bruises, the injuries you had to go through, all the ups and downs and all the hard times. This is the best feeling in the world."
Gagne said winning gold with Canada at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games the top moment of his career. Gagne had a goal and three assists in six games, often playing with Joe Sakic and Jarome Iginla.

He was also part of Team Canada's victorious 2004 World Cup of Hockey squad. He was also part of Canada's 2006 Olympic squad.
Though he tasted championship elsewhere, he will be best remembered with the Philadelphia Flyers. 
The left-winger was a major contributor to the Flyers' run to the 2010 Cup final, scoring two game-winning goals as Philadelphia erased a 3-0 series deficit to beat the Bruins.
"I have so many good memories with the Flyers, it's tough to remember all of them. Breaking my foot, coming back in Game 4 and scoring the overtime goal and after that slowly coming back in that series and able to go to Boston, going down 3-0 in that Game 7 and coming back and scoring that power-play goal ... (was) definitely one of my best moments with the Flyers," Gagne said.

Gagne's best season came while playing on a line with Peter Forsberg and Mike Knuble, though it took a little bit to get used to playing with Forsberg. He also is well remembered for playing on a line with Keith Primeau and Mark Recchi earlier in his career.

When healthy Gagne was a fast and determined winger with a excellent in-close finishing skills and was defensively sound. Serious hernia, groin and concussion injuries plagued him. He did not finish his final season following the death of his father from liver cancer.

"Last year, I lost my father: my number 1 fan, my coach, my confidant, my best friend, and my top teammate. The hard knocks of life often teach us to stop, think and look back at the road traveled, so that we can make the right decisions going forward. Today, I am hanging up my skates, calmly and with peace of mind, knowing that it is the right time and the right decision," he said.

Gagne will raise his family of three kids in his home of Quebec City while continuing to work for sick and under privileged children. He still admits to be a lifelong Nordiques fan and hopes to see the team return soon.

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