Return with some bling: Cup winner Gagne comes back to Philly

Proving once more that if you’re once a Flyer, chances are you could be a Flyer at least one more time before your career is complete, the Orange and Black made the surprise announcement Tuesday afternoon that they have brought back one-time star forward Simon Gagne.

The 33-year-old was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings for a conditional
fourth-round pick which once belonged to perennial trading partner Phoenix.

According to Lisa Dillman of the LA Times, it is a third-round selection if the Flyers make the playoffs and a fourth-rounder if not.

“Simon is an experienced veteran who will help us in a lot of areas,” Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said in making the announcement.  “We are glad to have him back.”

In limited action, Gagne posted just five assists in 11 games for Los Angeles this season — coming off a postseason hampered by recovery from a concussion which allowed him to partake in just four games without a point in LA’s first-ever championship run. He is on the final year of his current deal with cap hit of $3.5 million but an annual salary of $2.5M and is working his way back from offseason neck surgery.

The Quebec native returns to Philadelphia as the franchise’s 10th-leading
point producer (524), ninth in goals (259) and 16th in assists (265), and 15th in total playoff points (47) in 664 games over 10 seasons

Gagne was the Flyers’ first-round draft pick in 1998, and has totaled 283
goals and 586 points over 772 NHL games for Philly (1999-2010), Tampa Bay (2010-11) and Los Angeles (2011-13).

His crowning achievement here was in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals three years back, scoring the game-winning goal on a power play with less than eight minutes remaining in Boston, sending the Flyers to a 4-3 victory and 4-3 series win after being down 0-3 in the best-of-seven set and 0-3 in the first period of the deciding contest.

Gagne cut his teeth on the memorable 2000 club which lost in a Game 7 at home in the Eastern Finals to the New Jersey Devils, then grew to be an integral part of the 2004 team which also ran out of gas in a Game 7 against Tampa Bay — sending that series to a terminal meeting after scoring the deciding OT goal two days earlier on home ice.

But now, in 2013, is Gagne here for veteran reassurance, as a pawn in future trade talks? That remains to be seen. The immediate impact can be seen as one for PR purposes on a team barely able to reach the .500 mark heading into a prime-time matchup with the Washington Capitals tomorrow night.