The reports say it’s true: SImon Gagne is not only recovered from his concussions/neck issues, but he’s training with five-time winner of the Canada’s Strongest Man competition Hugh Girard. (Danny Briere also trains with Girard during the offseason. Apparently the workouts only make you stronger, not taller.)
Gagne certainly would be the “free agent signing” of the year, if he returns healthy. The addition of Gagne gives the Flyers two snipers (Gagne, Lupul), two playmaking centers (Briere, Richards), a scoring/checking center (Carter), and two gritty wingers (Knuble, Hartnell). Add to that the speed and snarkiness of Upshall, the quick skating and playmaking abilities of Claude Girous, and the snarl and board-work of Steve Downie, and you’ve got quite a top 9 on the roster.
Being a relatively young fan (let’s just say I would have had the same draft year as Richards and Carter), Gagne is the first player I have watched from development through his entire NHL career. I can remember his draft day – the same draft in which Vinny Lecavalier was taken first overall and Scott Gomes 27th. I can also remember watching him as a scrawny-looking rookie. And I remember his first games with Peter Forberg.
I hope to watch Gagne create more great Flyer memories this season, and for many more to come.