Philadelphia fans, as you know, gets a bad national rap.
But Flyers fans should be nationally praised (we doubt it'll happen) for the appreciative treatment they gave Tampa Bay left winger Simon Gagne Thursday.
Ditto the Flyers organization, who put together a stirring video tribute of Gagne's 11-year career that was shown in the first period against the visiting Lightning.
The fans stood and gave Gagne a two-minute standing ovation. They had also roared when he came onto the ice for the pregame warmup.
"The fans were awesome," said Gagne, still fighting tears after the game.
Steven Stamkos, Tampa’s young superstar, said the Lighting wanted to win the game for Gagne.
And that’s just what the Lightning did.
Gagne, traded to Tampa in July, wasn’t much of a factor, but his teammates carried the Lightning to a workmanlike 3-2 victory at the Wells Fargo Center.
“I cannot ask for more. We got the win at the end, and it was fun,” Gagne said. "The fans were awesome. I was not worried about getting booed. Some reporter asked me if I was going to get booed and stuff like that in Tampa Bay. I said I don’t think so; they are pretty good fans.”
Stamkos and teammates Dominic Moore and Pavel Kubina scored goals, and former Flyer Steve Downie contributed two assists for Tampa.
Brian Boucher allowed a soft goal _ a long shot by Kubina that squeaked between his pads _ to give Tampa a 3-1 lead early in the third period.
Center Danny Briere was asked if Gagne’s homecoming was a distraction for the Flyers (2-1-1), who seemed out of sync in the last two periods.
“Not at all. It was a nice reception. I thought the crowd did a very nice thing there and even the team for acknowledging his stay here,” said Briere, who scored his third goal of the young season. “But no, for us it didn’t change anything.”
After Briere’s goal cut the deficit to 3-2 midway through the third period, the Flyers had little offense. They managed just four third-period shots.
Tampa is now 3-0.
“That’s a tough first few games, let me tell you, for him,” said new Tampa coach Guy Boucher, referring to Gagne. “First game, he needs to impress because it’s his new team. Second game, it’s in Montreal, he needs to impress because that’s his home. Then, he’s here in Philadelphia. So, I raise my hat to him because that’s a tough day. If that was me, I might’ve been crying on that bench when I saw that video and people standing up. He’s a good guy.”
Told that Gagne said he was fighting tears, Boucher smiled.
“Yeah, well, I would’ve cried. I know that,” he said.