Philadelphia Flyers: Wayne Simmonds deserves recognition during first game back

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Former Philadelphia Flyers star Wayne Simmonds will be back in town on Wednesday night as a member of the New Jersey Devils.

During his eight seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, you could never accuse Wayne Simmonds of giving anything less than 100 precent on every shift he took for the orange and black.

Never the fastest, biggest, or best at any aspect of the game, Simmonds still managed to work his way into the hearts of Flyers fans after coming over in a 2011 trade with the Los Angeles Kings.

On that day, as fans remember, the Flyers altered their franchise by dealing away Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.

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And as much as it stung to see Richards and Carter reunite in Los Angeles and be a part of two Stanley Cup teams, it still felt like the Flyers made out very well in the trades they made.

There was Brayden Schenn, who would go on to post three 20-goal seasons for the Flyers. Jakub Voracek has worked his way into 15th place on the franchise’s all-time scoring list.

And Sean Couturier, taken with a draft pick acquired in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets on that day, has turned into an excellent NHL player.

Also, there was Simmonds.

In his first three seasons with the Kings, Simmonds had shown himself to have decent offensive skills, but it was his hard-nosed style of play that likely enticed the Flyers to ask for him in a trade.

Little did the Flyers know at the time just how big of a contributor Simmonds would become, as he would quickly become a fan favorite, simply by working hard every night and being an embodiment of the qualities that the Flyers organization has purported to value for so long.

It also didn’t hurt that Simmonds eclipsed the 30-goal mark on two occasions with the team, showing just how special of an offensive player he really was, and continues to be in the NHL.

His reputation may have been cemented in a game against the Buffalo Sabres in 2012, during his first season with the Flyers. Simmonds took a puck to the face during warmups, leaving a gash that needed 25 stitches to close, yet he still managed to play, and scored twice in a 7-2 victory.

Simmonds played in all 82 games that season, and he did it two more times during his tenure with the team, no easy feat for someone who plays the game as hard as he does every single shift.

In fact, Simmonds sits third on the games played list among players taken in the 2007 draft, behind only top pick Patrick Kane and, ironically, Jakub Voracek.

Lately, Simmonds has said that expects some boos from the Philadelphia crowd when he takes the ice as a visiting player for one of the team’s fiercest rivals.

It’s probably just him being humble, because no Flyers fan in their right mind (go ahead, make a comment) would boo Simmonds, a man who represented everything a member of the Flyers should be, both on and off the ice.

You might have to go back to Chase Utley to find a Philadelphia athlete in any sport who worked as hard as Simmonds did every night. Even when the goals weren’t coming and he was obviously playing injured, his effort level and determination were beyond reproach.

The Flyers were right to trade Simmonds away back in February, as trying to work on a new contract with a 30-year old player was not in the team’s best interests heading into last offseason.

But unfortunately, it was still difficult to say goodbye to a man who had brought so much to the team.

Detractors might point out the lack of playoff success for the Flyers during the time Simmonds spent with the club. To that I have no answer, except to say that the Flyers didn’t lose any series or miss the playoffs in certain years because of any fault of his.

Frequently, the team just wasn’t good enough to contend, no matter his contributions.

Despite how weird it is to see Simmonds wearing the uniform of the hated New Jersey Devils, I still have nothing but admiration for the man.

When the Wayne Train pulls into the station once more on Wednesday, a standing ovation is in order for a player who did everything an organization could have asked him to do.