This is the first of a multi-part series featuring various members of the Kings organization as the Stanley Cup makes its way around North America throughout the summer.
On June 4, 2010, Simon Gagne and the Philadelphia Flyers tied their best-of-7 series 2-2 and were two wins away from claiming the Stanley Cup. On June 9, 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup in nearly 40 years.
On December 26, 2011, Gagne, as a member of the Los Angeles Kings, his third team in the last three seasons, suffered what was believed to be a season – and possibly career – ending concussion. On June 4, 2012, Gagne played his first game in more than five months as the Kings faced the New Jersey Devils in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.
On June 11, 2012, Gagne hoisted the shiny silver chalice that had eluded him his entire 12-year NHL career.
“I’m not going to lie to you, I did get close a couple times when I was in Philly. I played in the Final one time and at one point it was 2-2, so you’re two wins away from the Cup and you try to not think too much about it, but when you’re in the hotel room before the game you kind of think about what you’re going to do with the Cup if you win it,” Gagne admitted.
So a couple days after their Game 6 Cup victory, when the Kings players were asked to fill out information sheets on where they wanted the Cup, for what and when, Gagne was a step ahead of the process. He had already called home to confirm the date of his 11th annual golf tournament, from which proceeds benefit children’s cancer charities.
Gagne was thrilled when notified by the Kings that the Cup would be available to him around the time of his golf tourney in mid-July.
“I’m getting old and because I’ve played a lot of games in the League I was able to get my day, and I was pretty happy when Dean Lombardi e-mailed me that I’d get the day that I wanted,” Gagne explained.
For Gagne, it was a no-brainer to bring the Cup to his home province of Quebec, where he played his junior hockey and loyal golfers have helped him raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity over the last decade.
The day began at 6 a.m. when Gagne had to be up in order to meet the Cup at the airport in Quebec City at 7:30 a.m. The first stop was his brother’s business, where Gagne allowed employees to take photos with the Cup for 30 minutes.
The Cup was then taken back to Gagne’s parents’ house, where it stayed for two hours while an assembly of more than 200 family members and friends took turns taking pictures of the trophy.
“It was a lot of people you don’t have a chance to see, but you grew up with,” Gagne said. “It’s been hard to keep in touch for the last 12 years when you’re away all the time, so it was really fun to see them again.”
Eventually the Cup made its way to Gagne’s golf tournament, the focal point around which all other festivities revolved. The Cup was photographed with each foursome, tournament staff, as well as children battling leukemia, who directly benefit from the tournament proceeds.
“It was amazing to see them have a chance to touch the Cup and take a picture with it,” Gagne expressed.
Following the tournament appearance, Gagne showed off the trophy at a public gathering in Quebec City where he allowed those present to snap photos of the Cup for two hours before taking it back home for a brief rest.
“I was thinking maybe take a nap, but I was not able to take a nap because the kids wanted to play with the Cup,” Gagne joked.
The family took some backyard photos with the Cup before it was time to return to the golf tournament for dinner.
Gagne capped off a long day with a private party at his home with family and his closest friends, nearly 100 people in total.
“It was a long day, but like I said it was all worth it,” Gagne declared. “It was so much fun and I guess I didn’t sleep too much. The Cup Keeper got up at 5:30 a.m. and I was still awake when he left.”
The goal for the day in Gagne’s eyes was simple: to create the perfect day and to be able to touch as many people as possible who have supported him in past years, and even since the beginning. When Gagne woke up the next morning, he felt he had done exactly that – he had seized the opportunity – just as he was able to do on the ice.
“This season was not easy and to be able to come back when my teammates gave me a chance to get back in the Final, it was amazing,” Gagne commented.
“So many good players have played on teams that have never had a chance to even go to the Final, so to be able to go there again for the second time, to get a second chance to go at it was really special.”
Follow Deborah Lew on Twitter: @by_DeborahLew
For great photos of the Cup’s travels, follow the Hockey Hall of Fame’s KEEPER OF THE CUP on Twitter: @keeperofthecup.