By: Jake Aferiat
1998 was a great year in the NHL. The Dallas Stars won the Stanley Cup, Jaromir Jagr won the Hart Trophy, and one future 4-time All-Star was drafted. His name is Simon Gagne and he was taken 22nd overall by the Philadelphia Flyers.
Gagne enjoyed a great rookie campaign in 1999, tallying 48 points (20 goals 28 assists) and also recording 5 goals and 5 assists in 17 playoff games. His great season led him to finish 4th in the Calder Trophy voting, and was good enough to earn him a spot on the NHL All-Rookie Team.
Gagne’s best statistical season came in 2004-05 when he recorded 47 goals and 32 assists, good for 79 points. After that season, he was awarded the Bobby Clarke Trophy, given to the Flyers Team MVP. The following year, Gagne was named to his second consecutive All-Star Game after putting up a second straight 40 goal season.
The 2007-08 season is where things started to turn bad for Gagne. He appeared in only 25 games that year. After sustaining a concussion on a hit by St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester on October 25, he missed four games. Upon coming back, Gagne re-injured himself, and was subsequently shut down.
Gagne’s last full season was the 2008-09 season, when he played in 79 games and recorded 74 points. He was named to his fourth and final All-Star Game. Injury trouble would continue to plague Gagne for the remainder of his career, be it hernia surgery, concussions, or neck problems.
Gagne would never play more than 63 games in a season again, and hasn’t recorded more than 40 points in a season since 2008-09. However, this season, it hasn’t been injuries that have sidelined Gagne.
This offseason, Gagne signed a 1 year deal worth $600,000 with the Boston Bruins after missing all of last season. Gagne appeared in 23 games this season for the Bruins, recording three goals and one assist. Gagne’s indefinite leave of absence began on December 10th after his father was diagnosed with liver cancer. Gagne’s father has since passed away and in response, Gagne said “To play in the NHL you have to be 100 percent mentally, emotionally and physically committed to the game. At this time I know that I cannot be close to those levels.” On January 12, 2015, Gagne announced he would not return to the team this season.
Over his 15 year career, Gagne recorded 291 goals and 310 assists for 601 career points, to go along with 4 All-Star appearances and an Olympic Gold Medal. At 34, Gagne is by no means young, but if Scott Gomez’s recent bounceback is any key, then so long as he’s mentally ready, Gagne should have no trouble producing as a third line forward in the future.