Looking to boost a struggling club, Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren turned to a familiar face, acquiring Simon Gagne from the Los Angeles Kings in a trade Tuesday afternoon.
"It's tough to say exactly the way I feel right now," Gagne said Tuesday. "It's always a shock first of all getting traded, but when they told me the place I was going, the place I was there for more than 10 years and where everything started … it's going back to the place where I'm really familiar, and [I'm] really excited to go back to Philly."
The Flyers gave the Kings a conditional fourth-round pick (previously acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes) in the 2013 NHL Draft. If the Flyers qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they will transfer their third-round pick in the 2013 draft.
Gagne, 32, had five assists in 11 games with the Kings this season, but never really found his groove after suffering an injury during the 2011-12 regular season. After appearing in 34 games during the regular season -- scoring seven goals with 10 assists -- Gagne did not return until the Stanley Cup Final. He made four appearances in the Kings' six-game victory against the New Jersey Devils.
"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," Gagne said. "Trying to understand what was my role here with the Kings this year, trying 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."
Gagne said he had surgery on his neck in June less than a week after the Kings won the championship.
"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 L.A. this year, so now having a chance to play with Philly and play on a regular basis, I'm really excited to try that," Gagne said.
Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said Gagne no longer had a role with the Kings.
"Obviously he's a veteran player whose game is already defined. He wasn't fitting in, so to speak," Lombardi said. "You can't do this unless you feel comfortable with what you have coming in the minors. We feel pretty good about our depth up front in the system, so this opens up a roster spot. This allows is some flexibility there and it allows us some flexibility with space and cash at the deadline."
Gagne and Lombardi each said the forward did not ask to be traded.
"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," Gagne said. "It just happened like that. I didn't have a chance to ask Dean or [Ron Hextall] to try to trade me, they just did it on their own.
"It just shows you the class those guys have. 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 [for] me this year."
Gagne spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the Flyers, appearing in 664 regular-season games and scoring 259 goals and 528 points.
Philadelphia recently lost forward Matt Read with a rib-cage injury, and forward Tye McGinn suffered an eye injury Monday. Scott Hartnell returned to the lineup this weekend from a broken foot.
"[Simon] improves our depth up front automatically," Holmgren said. "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.”
Gagne said he spoke briefly to Holmgren.
"[I] 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," Gagne said. "I'm sure I'll have a chance to catch up with him when I get to Philly."
Expected to be one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference, the Flyers have struggled through the first six weeks of the season, going 9-11-1. They are tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning with 19 points, but the Lightning hold three games in hand and, therefore, hold the eighth spot in the conference.
The Flyers play Wednesday at home against the Washington Capitals. Gagne said he is taking a red eye flight from Los Angeles.
"I don't know what the plan is for me tomorrow," Gagne said. "I know they want me to play. I'll play and we'll see. It's gonna be fun."