Thank You, Wayne.

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If you are reading this, Wayne Simmonds is about to be traded and you’re probably pretty bummed. But that doesn’t mean we can’t go back and take an in-depth look at Wayne Simmonds’ history and why he will always be remembered as a member of the Flyers.

Early Years

Contrary to most players in the NHL nowadays, the Simmonds household didn’t have as much money to invest in hockey, or other sports for that matter. They had six kids and Wayne, the second youngest, often had to work summer jobs to help pay for his hockey.

They were thankful to have plenty of friends who were willing to help out. A lot of sacrifices needed to be made to help Wayne progress. His mother worked and went to school full-time and his dad was a construction worker, needless to say, time and money were tight. It even went as far as getting sponsors from the construction company his dad worked for in order to pay the Midget AAA registration fee. In the end, there was a beautiful, collaborative effort to help make Wayne Simmonds the player he is today.

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That year, in Midget, Simmonds notched 72 points in 67 games and was later on drafted by the Brockville Braves of the CJHL (Central Junior Hockey League). The following year, he was drafted 144th overall by the Owen Sound Attack in the OHL.

Simmonds never put up outstanding numbers, but his tenacity, grit, and skill were appealing to many teams, which ultimately led to him being drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the second round, 61st overall.

He played for three full seasons with the Kings, amassing 39 goals and 93 points in 240 games. In the summer of 2011, he was traded to the Flyers in a blockbuster deal that sent captain Mike Richards to LA.

Enter, The Wayne Train

It was only fitting that Simmonds was traded to the Flyers.

It was his destiny to be a part of the franchise known for it’s rough and rowdy style of play. Since being shipped to Philadelphia, the “Wayne Train” has been the heart and soul of the Flyers, never taking a night off and constantly battling for his teammates, much to the delight of fans who love to see a player give everything he has in the tank.

The intangibles he brought to the Flyers are what made him such a valuable commodity for eight seasons. However, the raw skill of Simmonds cannot be ignored, after all, you don’t score more than 200 goals with a franchise by sheer luck.

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Since arriving to the Orange & Black, Simmonds has been a big contributor. He scored in his second game in a Flyers jersey and never looked back, netting 28 goals in his first season with the team. He became a core piece and a power play specialist, where he scored 91 goals (second to only Alex Ovechkin).

While Simmonds displayed the ability to score, he was also a stand-up guy. He never let a bad hit go unpunished, never was afraid to mix it up with the opposing team and the fans loved him for it. He is the pure definition of a team player, willing to do whatever it takes to win.

He always stuck up for his teammates, this fight coming the day after Anthony Mantha hit captain Claude Giroux from behind.

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Simmonds plays the game hard, but he plays it right. Never crossing the line with dangerous hits, but always maintaining that fire and intensity that people love. Even on nights when the Flyers were off, you could always see Simmonds giving 110%, no matter what the score was.

What is remarkable, is how despite the image people have of Simmonds, he is a class act off the ice, constantly giving back to the community, a promise he made to his mother Wanda a long time ago.

It’s safe to say he’s fulfilled his promise. He created “Wayne’s Road Hockey Warriors” back in 2012, a road hockey tournament in Scarborough that helps fundraise hockey for kids who might not be as fortunate. It’s grown almost every year and more and more NHL players are getting involved. Unfortunately, they didn’t manage to do it last summer, but Simmonds remains an integral part of the community.

When all is said and done, Wayne Simmonds has tallied 203 goals, 378 points, 784 penalty minutes in 584 games with the Philadelphia Flyers. Whichever team picks up Simmonds at the deadline know they have not only a great hockey player on their team, but an even better human being.

 

On behalf of Flyers fans everywhere,

Thank you for everything, Wayne.

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Photos courtesy of Kate Frese

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