Flyers re-sign Gagne to deal reportedly worth $26.25M

Updated: September 11, 2006, 11:44 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PHILADELPHIA -- The Flyers re-signed free-agent Simon Gagne to a five-year contract Monday night, ending a summer of difficult negotiations with training camp set to open Thursday.

League sources told the Philadelphia Inquirer the deal is worth $26.25 million.

Left Wing
Philadelphia Flyers

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2006 SEASON STATISTICS
GM G A PTS +/- PIM
72 47 32 79 31 38

The sources told the paper the first-line left wing agreed to the deal after general manager Bob Clarke flew to Montreal on Monday to meet with him and his agent, Bob Sauve.

"It is very tough to believe that I am signing a pretty nice contract like that for five years and I will be with the Flyers for the next five years," Gagne said. "It is the city I love."

Gagne, a former first-round pick, is coming off the best season of his career, scoring 47 goals and 79 points last season for Philadelphia.

"I think it was critical to our organization to get Simon signed and to get him signed for a number of years," Clarke said. "He's one of the better two-way players in the game."

Clarke needed only a few hours of a face-to-face meeting with Sauve to complete the deal.

"I always wanted to get this done with Bob and, finally today, after the meeting, the three of us got it done," Gagne said. "It was pretty fun to shake the hand of Clarkie after a couple of hours of talking."

Both Gagne and Clarke wanted an agreement before training camp opens in Voorhees, N.J., at the end of the week. Clarke went public with contract negotiations last week, a move he rarely makes with unsigned players.

"When a player misses training camp, it is disruptive for the player and for the team," Clarke said.

The 26-year-old left winger has 160 goals and 164 assists in 426 career games. He's scored 20 goals in five of his six seasons.

"Simon is a very complete player," coach Ken Hitchcock said in a telephone interview. "He plays the most minutes on the team, he goes against the other team's best player, he can handle multiple positions. He does all of the other things needed to win."

Gagne had said he wouldn't report to camp without a new contract. Clarke said the Flyers wanted to offer him a long-term deal while Gagne wanted the same amount -- reportedly $5 million -- over a shorter time frame. Because Gagne was a restricted free agent, another team could have made an offer, and the Flyers would have had the right to match.

It had been reported by Philadelphia-area media that Gagne had turned down two offers, which Clarke said were worth "$5 million a year for four years and $5 million a year for five years," in favor of seeking a three-year deal.

"We haven't been unfair to Simon Gagne," Clarke was quoted as saying in the Philadelphia Inquirer at the time. "The statistics and everything else back it up. We didn't just pull these numbers out of the air. We did it professionally."

The talks appeared to hit a bump in the road following those comments. Gagne and his agent expressed displeasure at Clarke making details of the negotiations public.

"We don't discuss numbers, but if that is what they want to do, it's their choice," Sauve told the Inquirer. "We still have some time to resolve this thing."

Still, Clarke said he would only worry about a deal being reached if Gagne failed to show up for camp on Sept. 15. "If he doesn't sign by then, then we've got a problem," he told the newspaper.

Problem averted.

"I didn't want to miss training camp," Gagne said. "I was hoping in my mind I wouldn't have to do that. I was crossing my fingers."

Fueled by the addition of star center Peter Forsberg, Gagne tied for the team lead with seven game-winning tallies and ranked sixth in the league with a plus-31 rating, to go along with new career highs in goals and points.

With Forsberg possibly set to return from ankle surgery on opening night, the Flyers will have their two best players in the lineup as they try to win their first Stanley Cup title since 1975. The Flyers were eliminated in the first round by Buffalo last season.

"I think the potential is there if he and Peter and [Mike] Knuble and the line stay healthy," Hitchcock said. "If the line stays healthy, it has a chance to do some serious damage."

Gagne was the Flyers MVP last season and was tied for first with seven game-winning goals. He was second on the team in power-play goals with 12.

"It was a long negotiation all summer," Gagne said. "I'm happy with going forward."

Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.