First, there will be a media conference call with Simon Gagne sometime today. in about an hour. Terry Murray, fresh off the golf course in Maine — he was pleased with the round — took a few minutes to talk about the Kings’ signing of Simon Gagne. Murray was an assistant coach with the Flyers for four of Gagne’s 10 seasons in Philadelphia.
MURRAY: “I’m very excited about Simon Gagne. I’ve known him from the time that he came in as a young player. He’s a very good player. You go back through the Canadian Olympic team and the World Championships, and he was one of the real good players on some of those teams, and certainly a real good player for the Flyers. So I’m excited about this one.”
Question: Clearly the question with Gagne recently has been his ability to stay healthy, but when he is healthy, what type of play can he bring?
MURRAY: “He had a couple of injuries, I know, that have set him back a couple times in his career, but the high-end skill that he brings is exciting. You always look for him to play with your top center icemen. He’s a great scorer. He’s got great hands. He comes through with timely plays, timely goals. You go back to the Flyers, the last time I was there, and thinking back to some of those playoff series, he’s the guy making the play, scoring the big goal, the winning goal in overtime. He has that knack to be at the right place at the right time, so it’s a great add for us.”
Question: Talking to Ron Hextall, he mentioned Gagne’s defense and penalty-killing being underrated as well…
MURRAY: “When you look at the early part of his career, when he was playing for Team Canada, that was what grabbed everyone’s attention, his play without the puck. He is a very good checking player, defensive player. Maybe because of his high-end offensive ability to score goals, that is overlooked, but heck, there are many situations and times that I remember when he matched up against the top lines of the opposition for checking purposes. He’s a very responsible player. And on the penalty-killing side of, he and Mike Richards, in the time I was with the Flyers, they were dynamic. They were probably the two best on that Flyers team, and paired together, they were tremendous. It’s a great matchup to look forward to.”
Question: With Mike Richards and Gagne on board, it would seem like you’ve got some interesting options for those top two lines. Is it a little exciting, as a coach, to think about how those lines might look?
MURRAY: “Yes, it is. That’s always exciting, when you sign these guys who have the potential to score a lot of goals. Penner, he’s a 30-, 35-goal scorer. Simon Gagne, he’s the same way, and he has put up even bigger numbers in the past. They play very well off of skill people. They find a way to get open. They become available. Simon is one of the best that I’ve seen at finding that open ice to receive a pass, a catch-and-release pass is what I call it. I’ll fly back (to Los Angeles) on the 4th, so I’ll have some time to put some lines to pencil and paper and just take a look at it and start thinking about it.”
Question: You mentioned Gagne and Richards. The fact that they were linemates in the past, do you take that into consideration?
MURRAY: “I will take it into account. It has worked. I’ve seen it work. There’s good chemistry there. They play off each other, read off each other very well. It’s just a knack. Those things are called chemistry. You wonder why chemistry works sometimes, and how it works and how it happens and why it happens, but that type of chemistry fell in place when they did play together, and they had good success together. That won’t be too far away from my mind when I’m putting down some lines and starting to put things together in my mind for training camp.”