I know, this reaction Simon Gagne's move to Tampa is coming at the tail end of a busy week, when the trade is practically old news. We have, after all, been discussing this for weeks. But while we're all wrapped up in delirium about Gagne-in-Tampa, it might be wise to consider the alternate perspective on the matter.
Now, it's obviously a good thing. Gagne, despite his injury, holds immense potential for Tampa Bay: a seasoned veteran; a catalyst for Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier; and even an economic boost for Tampa's lethargic fan base (Gagne's a legend, and Florida is filled with snowbirds).
But let's not lose perspective here. Up north something different is going on: First, they were stunned. Now, they're mad.
On Monday, the day the news broke, Flyers Goals Scored By offered this:
Today was a watershed moment for the future of the Flyers franchise. Today, the Philadelphia Flyers traded away their longest tenured star. A kid they drafted and kept for ten full hockey years, which in this day and age is something to be amazed at. A billable star who filled seats, sold merch and seemed like the nicest dude this side of the Schuylkill. Simon Gagne is now a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning and his time as a Flyer is over.
This week we've watched Monday's "watershed moment" develop into a melting pot of anger towards Tampa Bay, Matt Walker, and Paul Holmgren. We thought a couple of nasty fights with the Washington Capitals would do us in for a nice rivalry, but this could be better yet.
To rub salt in the wound, Simon Gagne was traded for Matt Walker and a fourth round draft pick. Matt Walker. It's hard to determine whether we're happier about gaining Simon Gagne or losing Matt Walker. Sure, Matt Walker is an intimidating defenseman who plays it safe and solid, but safe and solid just didn't for the Tampa Bay Lightning last season.
(Well, a lot of things didn't work last season, but I digress...).
But speaking of new rivalries and arch-enemies, as Simon Gagne is a beloved guy, Flyer's fans may find it more appropriate to take out their anger on General Manager Paul Holmgren. Holmgren's oversight in spending and managing the team's salary cap marks the game for what it is: a business. At the end of the day, the general ledger shows that Simon Gagne is just another name attached to a expensive price.
Business or not, one fan shows more despondency on the matter:
Unfortunately, Paul Holmgren decided not to look at his tremendous skills, never say die attitude and leadership in the locker room, but the injury and salary factors. We all know Gagne would've taken a pay cut next year to stay in Philadelphia, and would've have performed great this season if given the chance. Now we have to watch our beloved Flyer walk away and play phenomenal somewhere else. (Broad Street Hockey)
(I also got a kick out of this kid's take on Palmgren)
Gagne, regardless of the unfortunate (or fortunate, depending) financial circumstances, makes his endearment to the Flyer's community crystal clear:
"I think the thing I will miss the most are the Flyers fans," Gagne said. "All the support I got there for the 10 years that I played, even during the tough times when I had some injuries, the fans were really fair with me the whole time. There were a lot of No. 12 jerseys in the stands even when I started with the team in 1999. To them, I would just like to say a huge thank you." (Philadelphia Inquirer)
So, with Gagne gone south, with the iconic legend, the Flyers' heart and soul, dismembered from his adoring team, have we destroyed the Flyers? Or have we, instead, unleashed a rival monster? A monster who will be fueled with vengeance in the coming season?