Simon Gagne, who scored 601 points and won the Stanley Cup during a 14-season NHL career, announced his retirement Tuesday.
Gagne was the 22nd pick in the 1998 NHL Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers and played 691 of his 822 regular-season games with them. The left wing helped the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Final in 2000 and 2004, and to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010.
Gagne, who later won the Cup with the Kings to add to the Olympic gold he won with Canada at Salt Lake City in 2002, said the 2010 run with Philadelphia was among his fondest memories in hockey. The Flyers rallied from a 3-0 series deficit against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, with Gagne returning from injury to win Game 4 with an overtime goal and score the series-clinching goal in the third period of Game 7, which the Flyers had trailed 3-0 in the first period.
"I have so many good memories with the Flyers, it's tough to remember all of them," Gagne said, "but definitely the playoffs in 2010, the way things happened, breaking my foot, coming back in Game 4 and scoring the OT goal and then after that slowly coming back in that series … it was a team effort."
Gagne also played for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins, where he concluded his career with 23 games last season. He finished with 291 goals.
Gagne scored at least 20 goals seven times in his career. His best season came with the Flyers in 2005-06 when he had 47 goals and 79 points playing on a line with Hall of Fame center Peter Forsberg and wing Mike Knuble. Gagne had 41 goals and 68 points the following season.
"That's the best line I played on, the numbers don't lie," Gagne said, recalling a phone call he got from then-Flyers general manager Bob Clarke in the summer of 2005. "[He] told me, 'I got good news for you, I just signed you a centerman, it's Peter Forsberg and you're going to play with him.' At that point I knew my career was going to change. I had good seasons before that, but I had a different role. At that point I knew I was going to be a top left wing playing with players like that. I had to show up at camp in good shape and mind, and it clicked right away for us, not only on the ice but off the ice."
Later in his career, Gagne would serve as a mentor to future Flyers standouts. Captain Claude Giroux said Gagne was instrumental in helping him get acclimated to the NHL upon his arrival midway through the 2008-09 season.
"When I came in with the Flyers, even when I was 18 coming to rookie camps, he'd take me out for dinner," Giroux said Tuesday from the Flyers Celebrity Golf Invitational. "Really great guy. He was a great player to watch offensively and defensively. He had a really good career."
Throughout his career Gagne was known as a clutch performer in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, scoring 37 goals and 59 points in 109 postseason games. He scored nine goals in the Flyers' run to the Final in 2010. After being traded to the Lightning that summer, Gagne helped them to the Eastern Conference Final in 2011 by scoring five goals and 12 points in 12 games.
"He's a great professional. He had a lot of years under his belt," Giroux said. "He played in a lot of big games. When you see a guy like that you want to learn from him."
Gagne signed a two-year contract with the Kings in the summer of 2011. A concussion limited him to 34 regular-season games in 2011-12 and he missed most of the playoffs, but returned for the final four games of the Kings' six-game series win against the New Jersey Devils as the franchise and Gagne each won the Stanley Cup for the first time.
"Going to L.A. and winning the Cup, it's a dream of all players in the NHL, but when you take that Cup it's all the sacrifice you did when you were younger, the injuries you had to go through, the ups and downs and hard times," Gagne said. "This was the best feeling in the world."
Gagne was traded back to the Flyers the following season and had five goals in 27 games. After not playing in 2013-14 he made the Bruins out of training camp last season and had three goals, including the game-winner against the Arizona Coyotes in his final game on Dec. 6. Gagne left the team to be with his ailing father and after his death decided not to play the rest of the season.
Gagne, who is living in Quebec City, said he planned on taking some time to help his wife with their three children, the youngest of whom is 4 months. He said he would like to get back into hockey at some point, potentially as a commentator, but that he's open to other possibilities.