Remembering Wayne Simmonds time with the Flyers

Flyers, Wayne Simmonds (Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)
Flyers, Wayne Simmonds (Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports) /

Despite our reputation as being tough, Philadelphia sports fans love players who put it all on the line. It’s why we fell in love with players like Lenny Dykstra, Brian Dawkins, and Allen Iverson. Those guys all had talent, but at the same time, they put everything out on the field and usually had dirty jerseys by the end of the game.

The Flyers have had a few people who have been like this. Rod Brind’amour and Rick Tocchet played like that during the 80s and 90s. Noah Cates is playing like that right now. But one of the more recent players who played like that was Wayne Simmonds. From 2011 to 2019, nobody played harder in orange and black than Simmonds. He represents why the Flyers named their mascot “Gritty” because Simmonds, well, was gritty.

Simmonds was a second-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Kings in 2017. Two years later, he was starting for the Kings. He scored nine goals with 14 points in his first season while playing in every game for a rebuilding team. In the next two seasons, he scored a combined 30 goals.

Wayne Simmonds represented everything the Flyers are about

He arrived in Philly as a part of a series of trades that were made to clear up cap room so the Flyers could sign Ilya Bryzgalov. Simmonds came with Brayden Schenn in exchange for Mike Richards, forward prospect Rob Bordson, and a second-round pick.

Immediately, he took off. He scored 28 goals in his first season. It would be the first of six of his eight seasons in Philly where he scored more than 20 goals. It would be also one of three seasons that Simmonds would play every game.

One of the things that endeared him to Philly fans was his determination to play every game. There were times you could tell that he was playing hurt, but he still wanted to be out there on the ice. Whether it helped the team or not, he was going to play.

In the 2017-18 season, for example, he played the whole season with a tear in his pelvis area, torn groin, fractured ankle, torn thumb ligament, and a busted jaw. Over time, I think that hurt his career as he probably made some injuries worse.

Another thing that endeared him to Flyers fans was his willingness to throw down. He got into several fights as a Flyers. Here are two of my favorites:

And of course, there is always this fan favorite:

In eight seasons with Philadelphia, Simmonds scored 203 goals with 175 assists. He also racked up 784 penalty minutes. However, his shining moment as a Flyer was when he scored three goals in the 2017 NHL All-Star Game and took home the MVP trophy for the game.

Flyers, Wayne Simmonds
Flyers, Wayne Simmonds (Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports) /

Sadly, in sports, all good things must come to an end. The Flyers, who have been in a weird “rebuild/retool/reload” phase for the last eight years or so traded Simmonds near the 2018 trade deadline to the Nashville Predators for nothing…OH I’m sorry, we got Ryan Hartman who played in 19 games and scored two goals with four assists before being traded for Ryan Pitlick in the offseason. We also got a fourth-round pick.

So again….nothing. Despite the injuries, he was still a good player and many fans, myself included, feel that his return on him was really weak. Simmonds would be the recipient of the Mark Messier Award for leadership that season.

The following year, he signed a deal with the New Jersey Devils. He famously said he wants Flyers fans to boo him because that way he knows he was loved. The Devils then traded him to Buffalo near the end of the season. For the last three years, he’s been in Toronto.

This year, he has been in 10 games and has just one assist. At the beginning of the season, he had been waived by the Maple Leafs. I’d hoped the Flyers would have picked him up. Even in his broken-down state now, I’d rather have him than Kieffer Bellows. He may not have much more to give, but you know he’d give it all and you know Torts would love him and his attitude. After all, the Flyers could use his energy now.

Similarly, as I live in Eastern NC, I had always hoped that the Carolina Hurricanes would add him to their roster. I always felt that he reminded me of Rod’Brind’amour and that with Brindy as his coach, the two would connect.

Wayne Simmonds is 34 now and probably won’t be playing too much longer. His best days are far behind him. However, his mark on Philly as the Wayne Train will not be forgotten. He could score, he could lay down a hit, and he could fight. He could carry this team on his back and rally them to do amazing things. He is one of the most popular Flyers over the last 20 years.

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I do hope when he retires, the Flyers would hire him and use his talents and knowledge somewhere within this organization. Either way, he gave us all a lot of great memories and I wish he could’ve remained a Flyer.  Even if he didn’t remain one forever, he will forever be a fan favorite.