Flyers

Wayne Simmonds deserves better than what the Flyers are giving him

Wayne Simmonds deserves better than what the Flyers are giving him

Wayne Simmonds had every reason to pose for a brief photo op Tuesday night.

Albeit in a losing effort, Simmonds had just scored his 200th career goal as a Flyer, a rare accomplishment achieved by only 14 other players in franchise history.

Only one problem. 

The Flyers didn’t secure the puck that found its way into the back of the Capitals' net, and perhaps it wouldn’t have mattered. Simmonds was nowhere to be found afterward in the visitor’s dressing room of Capital One Arena.

No one was quite sure of Simmonds' whereabouts, but perhaps this postgame tweet provided a glimpse into Simmonds' mindset after his 10-minute misconduct late in the third period.

On TSN’s Insider Trading segment Tuesday, Simmonds was the first hot topic on the table and a player coveted by teams around the league, but with one caveat.

“The Flyers haven’t made a decision on the direction they want to go with Wayne Simmonds,” analyst Darren Dreger said. “They know he’s a big part of the culture in Philadelphia and has been for a long time, but he’s also a high-valued commodity.”

Dreger mentioned the Jets, Maple Leafs and Flames as contending teams that would have a strong interest in adding a player of Simmonds' caliber.

But mired in the muck of a midseason general managerial change, you can’t fault Chuck Fletcher for attempting to gather his bearings and make well-informed decisions regarding the future of the franchise. A month ago, Fletcher was just making introductory phone calls with agents and getting to know his players on a personal level.

Last week, Fletcher took time to watch the Flyers' prospects for the first time at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship.

But this is the fallout of an in-season GM switch when the organization is trying to hit the reset button.

Fletcher may know where he’s going, but right now Simmonds is a compass without a needle, and he deserves better. The outspoken, heart-and-soul leader of this team over the past eight seasons, Simmonds shouldn’t be held in limbo like this.

He saw Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek both sign long-term extensions in the summer before their contract year, and the extension Simmonds was hoping to sign this past summer was inked by James van Riemsdyk, who has clearly underperformed so far in Year 1 of a five-year deal. 

All of which makes you wonder how much lack of appreciation Simmonds keeps bottled up when he goes to the rink every day. Even Dreger pointed to a lack of patience on Simmonds' part. 

“I don’t think Wayne Simmonds wants to wait around too much longer to determine what his direction is moving forward,” Dreger said.

Still, Simmonds soldiers on and tries to put this whole messy situation in some sort of perspective.

Playing in the league a long time, you’ve been through it before. You bring up the trade deadline, this is my 11th year, you get used to things like this. It just is what it is. You've just got to be a professional on and off the ice. You've got to come to work and do your job.

At the same time, you can understand if he’s not in the mood to put a smile on his face and pose for a photo.

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What's next for Scott Gordon? Watching Stanley Cup Playoffs

What's next for Scott Gordon? Watching Stanley Cup Playoffs

Chuck Fletcher wanted to give Scott Gordon some time to think about his future.

The general manager said Gordon was understandably disappointed Monday morning when he was told he didn't earn the Flyers' full-time head coaching position.

What might Gordon be doing in the meantime?

Good chance he's checking in on the NHL playoffs.

Two weeks ago, Gordon was in limbo with the Flyers — a part of meetings moving forward and considered a strong candidate for the head coaching job, but with nothing guaranteed.

He was asked if such a dynamic was awkward at all.

"At the end of every year, it doesn't matter where you are or what your contract is, there's always a chance you're not going to be back," Gordon said. "I go into the summer or the end of the season, I obviously reflect on the past season, what I'd like to do different [or keep] the same."

In doing so, Gordon likes to study the postseason. A big advocate of dissecting game film, Gordon does the same with the Stanley Cup Final.

"I generally try to watch the playoffs as a fan and then in the finals, I'll watch it as a fan but then I will get those on a computer and break down, in August, some of the things … when the playoffs go through, just identify some things that I like that teams did," Gordon said. "Pay particular attention to the finals in August, as far as what I might consider doing differently, pull footage and present to my team maybe a different way of going about business."

Which team Gordon is working for in 2019-20 is unknown. He impressed Fletcher as the Flyers' interim head coach. The club was in the basement of the 31-team NHL standings more than halfway through the regular season. By March 11, the Flyers were within three points of a playoff spot following an 18-4-2 spree under Gordon.

Fletcher said he would likely touch base with Gordon again after Easter weekend. He will welcome him back to the organization with open arms. Fletcher said Gordon's previous job as head coach of AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley was his if the 56-year-old wanted it.

However, Gordon said after the Flyers' regular-season finale that his time with the 2018-19 club changed his perspective on coaching in the NHL again, a much-needed spark following a not-so-memorable two-plus seasons as head coach of the Islanders from 2008-10.

"My experience in Long Island wasn't a great one," Gordon said April 6. "So much so that I didn't really think too much about coaching in the NHL. If it happened, great, but I wasn't losing any sleep over it. As I told the players after the game tonight, coming in here and dealing with the character of the players — not just as players but as people — reinvigorated that desire to coach in the NHL. With that being said, I'll do what job is asked of me and I won't think twice about it."

Gordon won't have any issues finding a job. He'll be watching the Stanley Cup Final, ready to coach.

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule: Maple Leafs, Golden Knights can clinch on home ice

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule: Maple Leafs, Golden Knights can clinch on home ice

Four first-round playoff series remain alive.

Two of those four series could end Sunday.

Both the Maple Leafs and Golden Knights can advance to the second round if they win their respective Game 6s on home ice.

Below is the full schedule for Day 12 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. You can watch the entire playoffs on the networks of NBC. 

Boston Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs (TOR 3-2)
Game 6, Eastern Conference first round
3 p.m. ET | TV: NBC | Live stream here

San Jose Sharks at Vegas Golden Knights (VGK 3-2)
Game 6, Western Conference first round
7 p.m. ET | TV: NBCSN | Live stream here