Philadelphia's Simon Gagne: Leap Years Ahead by NHL | Nov. 24, 2003
Simon Gagne (pronounced: see-MOHN GAH-nyay) is one of the most promising young stars in the NHL. He has already played four seasons with the Flyers and tallied over 200 points! But there is one thing that Simon hasn't done very often—celebrate his birthday on his birthdate! Simon was born on February 29, 1980—a Leap Day. Since Leap Days only occur once every four years, Simon has only been able to celebrate his birthday on February 29 five times in his whole life! But hockey fans everywhere are in for a treat when Simon turns 6 leap-years-old as he and the Flyers take on the Red Wings in Detroit this February.
Simon is one of the speediest skaters in the league and his skills with the stick have made him a talented goal scorer. He led the Flyers in goals with 33 in his third year with the team. The Flyers' Leap Year Baby was a member of the All-Rookie team in 1999-2000, after finishing second for goals among rookies. And, in only his second year in the NHL, Simon became one of the youngest players ever to play in the All-Star Game.
After being picked twenty-second overall in the 1998 entry draft by the Flyers, Gagne had an astounding 50 goals and 70 assists in only 61 games during his last year in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). The Flyers recognized his tremendous potential and put him on the NHL roster for the 1999-2000 season. Simon proved that he could play in the bigger, faster NHL when he finished his rookie season with 20 goals and 28 assists—good enough for fourth among rookies. But that was just the beginning. In each of the next two seasons, Gagne raised his goals and assists totals. Simon's 27 goals during his second season was the second highest on the team, and his teammates voted him the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy co-winner as the most improved player from the previous season.
The 23-year-old Gagne, is also gaining a reputation for being one of the most clutch players in the league. During his rookie season, Super Simon led all rookies in playoff points (10) and was tied for first among rookies in playoff goals (5). He also accomplished what no other Flyer rookie has ever done by scoring the game-winning-goal in his first ever NHL playoff game against Buffalo on April 13, 2000. His second season was even better. Simon was second on the team with seven game-winning goals; he even scored the game winner in his first All-Star game as a member of the North American Team. He also won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, and a silver medal at the 1999 World Junior Championship. Phew!!! As you can see, Simon has been busy ever since he laced up the skates at age two. Keep an eye on him this year as he shoots for forty goals!
Be sure to check in soon for the next Young Star Story!
What did you do on your summer vacation? Nothing very special. I went back home to Quebec after the playoffs and did a lot of rehab, resting and relaxing.
What's your favorite hockey movie? Slap Shot
How much time do you spend playing on the internet in a typical week? I only go on line maybe once a week, to see what is going on around the league. I'm not a big computer guy.
At what age did you start playing hockey? I started to skate at two years old and started to play hockey at four years old
Ever been punk'd (had a trick played on you)? Ever punk someone? If so, tell us about it. Last year at the "Flyers' Wives' Carnival" I was punk'd. A guy came to interview me for television and at first I thought his English was not that great or maybe it was me who couldn't understand what he was saying. After, he told me it was a joke and the questions he was asking were very bizarre. No, I have never punk'd someone.
Which NHL goalie has the coolest mask? Right now I don't know. I think every goaltender has a great concept for their mask, I think they are all beautiful. I remember when (Ron) Hextall was with the Quebec Nordiques and he had that blue mask with a big white bear whose mouth was open so you could see the teeth all around. It was pretty nice. It was one of the masks that really impressed me when I was a kid.
What was the last concert you went to? This summer I went to see Metallica
Who was your favorite hockey player growing up? Michel Goulet, and, when I was able to understand the game a little better, it was Joe Sakic
If you could play any role in the remake of any film, what role would it be? I would like to be a detective in a movie. When they find the bad guys they make it look easy and they look like kings!
Who is your favorite super hero? Why? Superman because he can fly and that was a big movie when I was growing up
Do you have any brothers or sisters? I have one brother who is 21 years old
Favorite flavor of ice cream? Vanilla
What about playing in the NHL has surprised you the most? "Off the ice is the respect of the players. What impressed me is John LeClair and Mark Recchi and the other stars who treated me so well. On the ice, the game is so quick, the ice is big and you have to work very hard every night.
Name: Simon Gagne
Hometown: Ste. Foy, Quebec (Canada)