Updated: 5:28 p.m.
VOORHEES, N.J. — Next stop for the "Wayne Train" is Nashville, Tennessee.
Just before Monday's 3 p.m. deadline, the Flyers traded one of the organization’s most beloved players to Music City in exchange for right winger Ryan Hartman and a fourth-round pick in 2020, which could be a third-round selection if the Predators win a playoff round.
The move marks the end of an era.
"I was extremely on edge, obviously, not knowing where the day would go or how it would unfold,” Simmonds told TSN. “I went to the rink this morning for practice and then I was told I wouldn’t be practicing. I got a chance to say bye to the boys for a last time. It happened at the last minute of the deadline and I’m kind of overwhelmed right now."
Acquired from the Los Angeles Kings on June 23, 2011, along with Brayden Schenn and a second-round pick for Mike Richards and Rob Bordson, Simmonds turned out to be the best part of that package.
Even if the Flyers had just received Simmonds (which would have seemed ludicrous back then) and nothing else, the Flyers still would have overwhelmingly got the better part of that trade with L.A.
And it didn’t take long for Flyers nation to become completely enamored with the skinny 6-foot-2 kid from Scarborough, Ontario.
He had a 28-goal season in his first full year in Philadelphia to go along with 114 penalty minutes. He brought goals and grit every season as if he was time capsuled from the 1970s to play for this city in front of these fans.
What Chase Utley personified to the Phillies, what Brian Dawkins meant to the Eagles is exactly how you would characterize Simmonds within the Flyers' organization over the past eight years.
“He's been an ultimate warrior, he's been the best teammate all these years,” Claude Giroux said Saturday after their last game together. “We've all been here for a while now, we understand the business of it, but it doesn't mean we have to like it. There are not enough good words I can say about Wayne Simmonds."
Speaking with raw emotion following Saturday’s 4-3 overtime win, Jakub Voracek referred to him as his “best friend.” The rest of the league wasn’t as fortunate. Just ask Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin, who was rocked by Simmonds into the glass at Lincoln Financial Field and never returned — diagnosed with a concussion.
That check and the ensuing melee that resulted in the loss of defenseman Kris Letang changed the entire complexion of the game. The Penguins may have thought it was a borderline dirty hit, but it was vintage Simmonds and the league obviously agreed.
Somehow, Simmonds engaged in 41 fights during his time with the Flyers and spent 784 minutes in the penalty box, and yet not once was he forced to miss a single game as the result of a suspension.
“It’s part of the game. I’m not a dirty player. I’ve never been suspended in my life. I don’t pick people’s heads. I don’t do any of that stuff," Simmonds said proudly said after Saturday’s game. "I play the game honest and hard, and I can sleep at night."
There are a handful of goalies around the league who have endured some sleepless nights staring at the back of No. 17.
Even though he was affectionately known as the "Wayne Train" throughout his Flyers career, Simmonds was more of a snow plow on a cold February morning in front of the opposition’s net. He would remove and clear out whatever stood in his way in order to score a goal, especially on the power play.
Since 2011, only Washington’s Alex Ovechkin has ripped off more power-play goals than Simmonds.
But if you ask him, here’s how Simmonds probably wants to be remembered.
Just last season, he suffered a tear in his pelvic area before training camp, which eventually led to him pulling his groin. He fractured his ankle in the line of fire of a slap shot, and then tore ligaments in the right thumb of his shooting hand. On top of all of that, he lost six teeth after taking a stick to the face while enduring some of the most excruciating mouth pain one person could possibly imagine.
Wayne Simmonds gave the city of Philadelphia everything he had playing the game of hockey.
And whatever he’s got left, whatever muscles and tendons are still attached, is what he’ll give to the fans of Nashville.
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