On Monday evening, January 12, the Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced that forward Simon Gagné had decided not to return to the team this season due to personal reasons.
Gagné’s decision is in response to the loss of his father, Pierre, who passed away the afternoon of December 25, 2014 from liver cancer. This was just fifteen days after Gagné took an indefinite personal leave of absence from the Bruins to be with his father and family for as long as his father had left.
“At this time Simon feels that he has to be home with his family and he has the complete support of the Boston Bruins organization with this decision,” said Chiarelli. “Given Simon’s decision not to return to the team, we have to change his status to maintain a full roster. I spoke to Simon about this, and he assured me that we have his full support with this status change.”
Gagné issued a statement in regard to his decision.
“The last month has been extremely difficult for me with my father being sick and his passing,” said Gagné. “To play in the NHL you have to be 100% mentally, emotionally and physically committed to the game. At this time I know that I cannot be close to those levels. The Bruins organization and my teammates have been great to my family and I during this time. When I decided not to return this season, I spoke to Peter [Chiarelli] and assured him that I did not want the organization or my teammates to be impacted. Together we made the decision that my status would be changed so that the team could have a full active roster.”
Gagné had worked hard to return this season to the NHL after having taken the entire 2013-14 season off. He was patient during the beginning of the year while Bruins management determined if his play was to the level they needed, practicing with the team when he did not yet have a contract.
Gagné’s father, who worked for 35 years as a police officer, was himself a hockey player in earlier years. In the 1960s he played for the Quebec Junior Aces, and even attended the first two training camps in the history of the Philadelphia Flyers (1967 and 1968), a team that ultimately selected his son Simon (22nd overall) thirty years later in the 1998 NHL Draft. In addition to Simon, Pierre and his wife, Nicole Maheux, have another son Jean-François, who is the owner of Planchers Bois Franc Gagné.
The family discovered that Pierre had an incurable cancer when a doctor in Boston saw him. This was learned just a few days before Gagné announced that he would be taking an indefinite personal leave. Then to lose his father such a short time later, it is understandable that Gagné would need some time to be with his family to grieve and to heal. And it is nice that the Boston Bruins can support him in this difficult time.
In speaking with Renaud Lavoie of Le Journal de Montreal, Gagné shared his feelings.
“Merci à tous pour leur appui dans des moments difficiles. Ce n’est pas simple pour ma famille et moi présentement, mais il est décédé comme un champion et comme il le désirait. Pour mon frère et moi, c’était notre idole et notre meilleur chum.”
For my brother and I, he was our idol and our best friend. — Simon Gagné