We interrupt our regularly scheduled less-than-compelling Flyers season for this special announcement:
Simon Gagne belongs in the Flyers Hall of Fame.
Then again, so do Rick Tocchet, Mark Recchi and Paul Holmgren. Those gentlemen have been waiting a lot longer for enshrinement than Mr. Gagne.
The point here is that sometimes it takes the Flyers’ powers that be a little longer than one might expect to honor their legendary players.
Let’s face it, if Jimmy Watson – considered by many to be one of the top five defensemen in franchise history – had to wait some 34 years to get his name up in the Wells Fargo Center rafters, anyone is fair game.
Gagne has only been out of the game three and a half seasons, so he’s got a ways to go to catch Watson.
But Gagne, I’m told, is eligible to be named the next time the Flyers’ HOF committee members get around to voting and so we ask: What’s not to like?
In 11 seasons with the Flyers, he played in 691 regular-season games and 90 more in the playoffs.
His 264 goals rank ninth on Philadelphia’s alltime list. The other nine players in the top 10 list are all in the Flyers’ Hall of Fame.
Gagne’s 535 points rank fourth for Flyers’ left wings, trailing only Bill Barber (883), Brian Propp (849) and John LeClair 643)
But a deeper look inside the numbers shows even more.
Remember the last time the Flyers went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2009-10 and pulled off that miraculous come-from-behind four-win miracle against Boston along the way?
It was Gagne who began the rally from a 3-0 deficit vs. the Bruins by scoring the game-winner in overtime in Game 4.
Then, playing with the negative effects of a broken toe in Game 7, Gagne broke a 3-3 tie with seven minutes to play for the winner.
How do you measure that sort of clutch play by looking at a pile of statistics?
The same can be said for Recchi, Tocchet and Holmgren.
We’ve already discussed the merits of all three players in previous columns but they are worth reviewing once again.
Recchi, who won a Stanley Cup with three different teams (Pittsburgh, Carolina, Boston), has already been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, so what’s the holdup in Philly?
He still holds the team’s single-season point record with 123 and stands ninth on the point list with 627. For right wings, those 627 points place him second behind only Tim Kerr (650). And he’s fifth overall in assists with 395.
Tocchet could beat you with his offense and his fists. His 508 points are sixth on the alltime list for right wings and his 1,817 penalty minutes rank first.
He also had eight hat tricks for the Flyers, putting him ahead of such greats as Barber, Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach.
Holmgren is perhaps the most curious omission of all.
He’s been just about everything you can be for an organization – player, assistant coach, head coach, assistant general manager, general manager and now team president.
Holmgren became the first American player to score a hat trick in a Stanley Cup Final game (1980). He stands second to Tocchet in penalty minutes (1,600) and ninth among all right wings in points.
He played through just about every injury a hockey player can sustain and yet kept coming back for more punishment when his team needed him.
Gagne, Recchi, Tocchet, Holmgren – four names which should be added to the Flyers Hall of Fame sooner than later.
And come to think of it, maybe Kimmo Timonen should get some consideration, too.
If Dave Schultz can make the standard, this quintet certainly can.
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