With all eyes on Los Angeles’ number 10, Mike Richards for those of you scoring at home, it’s easy to forget that there were more people than just Richards traded that fateful June afternoon. Certainly his return will be emotional for the fans and for him as the player once touted as the next Bobby Clarke steps on the ice in the opposition sweater. As my colleague Eugene pointed out earlier, Mike Richards will be forever linked to some of the Flyers most memorable moments of the last half a decade. However, there is someone else now wearing the Orange and Black who has something to prove to everyone. That someone is Wayne Simmonds, and he’s out to prove that the Kings let a good one slip away.
Wayne Simmonds is often seen as a footnote to the trade that sent Richards out West and brought Brayden Schenn to Philadelphia. However, since his first shift with the team he has proven that he’s more than just an add on to a trade. He was among the team leaders in scoring, and he has brought a much needed physical edge along with his scoring touch. In addition to the scoring touch in his hands, he’s also more than capable of going toe-to-toe with just about anybody.
Perhaps even more importantly however, is his willingness to go to the net and create havoc for the opposing goaltenders. While James vanReimsdyk is starting to come into his own physically, the only other player with any kind of net presence has been Scott Hartnell, who has never found the consistency to go to the net that the Flyers have lacked since John LeClair and Mike Knuble.
Simmonds, while possibly considered undersized, has been invaluable to the Flyers. Upon making the opening day roster on the 2nd line, he effectively stole the aforementioned Hartnell’s spot on Danny Briere’s wing. In a nutshell, he’s doing all the little things right. He plays hard and he stands up for his teammates. It’s this kind of attitude and on ice mentality that has quickly made Wayne Simmonds a fan favorite, earning the nickname “The Wayne Train. ”More importantly, he’s getting the chance to thrive in a system that appreciates his style of play. With that in mind, this tilt between the Kings and the Flyers just as important for Simmonds as it is for Richards. Dare I say, maybe even more so. Richards played his heart out in Philadelphia. He has nothing left to prove. Wayne has the chance to let everyone in the Kings front office know they let a good one get away.
Find out what’s up with the Kings this season over at Rink Royalty
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