Simon Gagne has won Olympic gold playing for Canada. He led a Flyers team last season that overcame a 3-0 deficit in the Eastern Conference semifinals to a win in seven games over the Bruins.
But when it comes to touching pure emotion, nothing may top what the Lightning left wing and former Flyers star experienced during Thursday's first period, when he was saluted on the Wells Fargo Center scoreboard with a minutelong tribute to his 11-year Philadelphia career.
"Something I will remember the rest of my life," said Gagne, who for the first time played in Philly as an opponent.
Gagne, who in a salary dump was traded in July for defenseman Matt Walker, knew the tribute was coming; he watched it privately before the game. But that didn't make it easier, especially when the crowd was on its feet cheering.
"I was a little lost on the ice after that," said Gagne, a two-time All-Star who scored 259 goals for the Flyers. "I didn't want to cry. I was trying not to, but it was hard."
The game was the end of what coach Guy Boucher called an extraordinary trio of emotional games for Gagne: his first home game with the Lightning (Oct. 9), his first game as a Lightning in Montreal in front of family and friends (Wednesday), and his first game in Philadelphia.
Gagne did not score Thursday. He did not even get a point. But he generally played well and created several scoring chances he just couldn't finish.
"It was tough," Boucher said of the ordeal. "I raise my hat to him."
Like Gagne did, on the Lightning bench after the video tribute ended, raising his stick to the Flyers fans and several times mouthing "thank you."
"It's something that's always going to be with me," Gagne said. "As a hockey player, getting a standing ovation from your fans, it shows you did something good."