Simon Gagne Joins Los Angeles Kings, Reunites with Mike Richards

Ryan FinesContributor IIJuly 3, 2011

Mike Richards and Simon Gagne
Mike Richards and Simon GagneJim McIsaac/Getty Images

Beating out the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning in the Simon Gagne sweepstakes is a solid triumph for the Los Angeles Kings.

Although unable to sign the most coveted free-agent Brad Richards, he may have created a logjam at the centre position for the Kings and could have caused more trouble than good.

But Gagne, though aging and dealing with recent injury troubles, should fit in nicely with the Kings, especially if paired with newly acquired centre and former teammate Mike Richards.

There are absolutely no doubts that Gagne joined the Kings to reunite with past linemate Richards.

Gagne and Richards were a staple on the penalty kill for the Flyers in the past and were linemates for several seasons before Gagne was sent to Tampa by Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren.

Before the trade, playing together in 2008-09, Gagne tallied 34 goals and 40 assists while earning a plus-21 rating, and Richards compiled a career-best 30 goals, 50 assists and plus-22 rating.

Not bad...at even strength.

On the penalty kill in the same year, Gagne buried four short-handed goals, while Richards paced the league with seven markers while a man down.

Combined with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, the Kings now have a fully effective, dual-unit penalty kill that is the envy of any team in the league.

Furthermore, the Kings have earned a battle-tested veteran who has dealt with every situation a hockey player could encounter.

Gagne won a gold medal with the 2002 Canadian Olympic team and has been a part of 105 NHL playoff games, including a trip to the Finals in 2010 where he scored some crucial goals for the Flyers.

In Philadelphia’s historic comeback from a 3-0 deficit against the Bruins in the 2010 playoffs, Gagne was the clutch goal scorer clinching the come-from-behind win for his team.

Also, Gagne is used to a winning culture and will help to establish a positive attitude within the Kings locker room.

Signing Gagne is not the end of general manager Dean Lombardi’s work this summer, as first and foremost, he has to re-sign defenceman Drew Doughty.

Oscar Moller, Brad Richardson and Alec Martinez also remain to be unsigned and sure to be on Lombardi’s to-do list as the Kings need to round out their roster.

Also with the potential of sending offer sheets to players like the Rangers Ryan Callahan and former King Wayne Simmonds, the Kings could still do some damage on the open market.

Regardless of the future, the Kings have made a solid move in acquiring Gagne, and next season continues to look more and more promising for Los Angeles as time passes by.


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