Courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren
Will Gagne make the team better?
PH: “He improves our depth up front automatically. Obviously with the injury bug and Matt Read being out and now we lost Tye McGinn last night for a few weeks. We have some holes. Simon is a guy who has a lot of experience and played in a lot of positions, penalty kill, power play and regular shifts. He is a good two way player that can skate. We think he will add to us a lot.”
What’s wrong with Tye?
PH: “He has a broken orbital bone that he is going to need to get fixed.”
You’re thinking a few weeks on that?
PH: “Probably at least two weeks.”
Talking about Simon not getting a lot of playing time in LA…
PH: “They have a lot of depth there (in LA) as well. It is hard to argue with their thought processes. They have a very big team who play a specific style. I know Simon played 11 or 12 games but hasn’t played the last four or five. I talked to Dean a few days ago. And said he might be in a position to move him and asked if we would have any interest. I said we might and then when the injury bug hit us in the last few games it was a good opportunity who can play higher up our lineup and add to our team.”
Are you concerned about the cap? He comes at $3.5 million.
PH: “Any concern? We can’t make the trade if you can’t fit it in. Obviously it adds to our salary cap but because of the guys we have on long term injury we can make it work.”
Who is long term?
PH: “I don’t know if we had to put anybody else on today. Meszaros is on there. Maybe Jody went on there today, I’m not sure.”
Any concern about Simon’s neck?
PH: “No. He is healthy. We will check him out when he gets in here. But I think he is fine. Our guys have seen him play. Coaches have watched tape of him playing. So we feel comfortable that he is fine. He seems excited to be coming back and looks forward to an opportunity to play and help us.”
Flyers LW Simon Gagne
On his reaction to the trade
It’s tough to say exactly the way I feel right now. It’s always a shock first of all getting traded, but after when they told me the place I was going, the place I was there for more than 10 years and where everything started, so it’s going back to the place where I’m really familiar and really excited to go back to Philly.
How are you feeling these days?
Health-wise I feel really good. Hockey-wise it’s a little tougher the last couple weeks, in and out of the lineup and not playing much. Trying to understand what was my role here with the Kings this year, try to figure out what’s going on. It’s part of the game and now it’s behind me and it’s time to focus on what I have to do to help the Flyers to win.
Do you feel like you’re in game shape?
Game shape’s good even if I haven’t played the last, I think, five games. It’s been, what, to weeks since I played. Still practicing with the team, still getting a skate after every morning skate, still riding the bike. That was the only thing I was able to do, try to focus on and keep myself in shape for exactly what happened and try to go and play for another team. I’m in good shape. It’s going to be maybe a tough one tomorrow night, I think they want me to be in the lineup. First of all I’m excited to be back and play in front of the fans in Philly tomorrow night. Right now the plan for me was there as no flight left for this afternoon so I have to take the red eye and fly all night. So it’s going to be a special game tomorrow but I’ll try to take all that emotion and try to bring that energy to the game.
On his offseason neck surgery
Yeah actually I feel really good since the surgery. The neck problem was going on for quite a while and it was a tough situation the last couple years having the head injury, but who knows it was maybe more my neck sometime. Having the surgery, finally finding a doctor here in LA that was willing to do the surgery – it was a tricky place to do the surgery, around the neck and close to nerves and stuff like that. After that I felt the difference right away, just overall like in normal life coming at the house, playing with the kids, sleeping at night, stuff like that, it makes a huge difference. I’m now really excited about that. I was looking forward to starting the season and playing pretty much every game but it was not the case. It’s a little bit difficult to be in the lineup and play and now try to see the difference, but I could tell I felt different on the ice and I feel better and I can’t wait to try it on a regular basis.
When was the surgery?
I had the surgery in June right after we won the Cup, so I think it was five days after we won, everything was planned. That’s why I was able to come back in the lineup. I had the chance to meet a lot of specialists that were willing to do the surgery for the neck and everything was planned. That’s why I knew at that point the head was OK and it was more a neck issue at the end, so that’s why I came back and played [in the playoffs]. Right after we won everything was scheduled to do the surgery. I’m 100 percent now, and like I said I was really excited about this year because of that, but unfortunately things didn’t work the way it was here in LA this year, so now having a chance to play with Philly and play on a regular basis, I’m really excited to try that. It will be fun.
On the state of his hockey skills after not playing
It’s not an easy situation. As a hockey player not playing a lot last year and not playing at the end in the Final and having the long lockout, not laying for almost six months before we started the season. But I have to say I felt really good – the games that I played this year, I felt really good on the ice. My leg was feeling good, the skill was coming back, but it’s hard when you start to feel your game coming back and you’re not playing the next five games, and after that you have to go back into the lineup, any player it’s going to be hard to ask someone to go back in the lineup after not playing for five games. It’s almost like a week not playing. It’s hard. But like I said the games I played here this year I was feeling really good. I think it’s just a matter of playing a little more hockey and all that stuff will come back.
Did you ask for a trade?
It’s funny you mention that because it was definitely something in my mind the last couple days. I talked to my agent three days ago and the situation here you could tell was not going to get better, and we started talking about the options. It’s just a little different now. I have a family and I have two kids, and you’re thinking about them a lot more than you’re thinking about yourself. I was willing to suck it up maybe for a couple more games or couple more weeks and see what’s going to happen here, but at the end I knew it was not my place here and it was time to move on. It just happened like that. I didn’t have a chance to ask Dean [Lombardi] or [Ron Hextall] to try to trade me, they just did it on their own. It just shows you the class those guys hav. Even if it’s hard getting traded in the middle of the season, going to Philly – and they told me it was maybe the best place for me to go – they’re really gentlemen to do that to me this year.
Did you talk to Paul Holmgren?
I talked to him a couple minutes after I met Dean and Hexy. First thing he told me is are you ready to play tomorrow night. I told him I’m taking the red eye flight tonight so I’ll be on the plane all night. So it’s going to be a tough one but he wanted me to be in the lineup so I’ll be there for him tomorrow.
Have you thought about whose line you want to play on?
No… actually I just got a call right now and it just said Peter Laviolette on my phone. That’ll be the first time I talk to Lavi. I don’t know what the plan is for me tomorrow. I know they want me to play. I’ll play and we’ll see. It’s gonna be fun.
Did Homer tell you what he thought you could do for the club or what it needed right now?
No, we didn’t have a chance to talk too much about that. Like I said, it was basic welcome-back, a couple laughs, more talking about the game tomorrow. Just said that I want to play, and he said I’m going to have a chance to play a lot of minutes with the Flyers, and that was the only thing he said. I’m sure I’ll have a chance to catch up with him when I get to Philly. I think he said the next game will be Saturday after that, so that will give us some time between games to talk about the future.
Do you still have a home in the area?
Yeah I still have it, but last month I finally found someone willing to buy it, so the closing’s going to be done on March 15. It’s part of the life, but at the same time we all know the market in Jersey’s not too good. So just getting to find a buyer to buy the house, it’s something that even if I’m going back to Philly, and it’s a house we lived in for quite a while, where my son was born, and a lot of good memories, but at the same time it was maybe the best option even if I go back there to sell the house and maybe renting something for the next couple years or at least the next couple months. Lavi was renting the house actually. Lavi was staying in the house for the last 2 ½ years.