Wayne Simmonds speaks about his time with Flyers before big return

Good guy Wayne Simmonds returns to play his former team the Flyers as a Devil in a unique Turnpike Rivalry. AP Photo by Bruce Bennett Philadelphia Inquirer via Getty Images

Tonight, Wayne Simmonds returns to the city of Philadelphia. It was there where he developed into a good power forward, who gave everything he had to the Flyers.

After being traded from the Kings to the Flyers with Brayden Schenn in a deal that saw Mike Richards go back to Los Angeles on June 23, 2011, Simmonds gave Philadelphia fans the kind of popular tough, rugged player they love. For eight years, he produced 203 goals including two 30-plus goal seasons. He amassed over 100 penalty minutes four different times while being a stand up teammate, who wasn’t shy about making opponents accountable with his fists.

Now, following a brief stint with the Predators last Spring, he will be on the opposite side of a unique Turnpike rivalry between the Devils and Flyers. He spoke to reporters about it.

Simmonds felt he deserved to stay in Philly. But it wasn’t to be with the team he knew since age 22 moving in a different direction. They cleared cap space to sign Kevin Hayes and swapped tough defenseman Radko Gudas to the Caps for stay at home type Matt Niskanen.

He’ll wear his trademark number 17 for the evil black and red instead of orange and black. Considering how popular he was, he should get a video tribute and acknowledgement from the crowd before the boos start.

Most importantly, Simmonds knows his new team hasn’t played well so far. After blowing a 4-0 lead in a gut wrenching 5-4 shootout loss in the home opener to the Jets, they embarrassed themselves in Buffalo on Saturday night. It wasn’t a contest with the Sabres blowing out the Devils 7-2. The worst moment coming when PK Subban made an awful mistake by dancing around with the puck at the Buffalo blueline. It led to a brutal turnover and Sam Reinhardt breakaway goal on Mackenzie Blackwood for the death blow.

With top pick Jack Hughes struggling so far, he will play on a third line with Simmonds and two-way threat Blake Coleman. That’s probably the way to go due to Hughes’ defensive issues in the first two games. He’s admitted he must get better.

The start of this Rivalry game is after 7:30 PM on NBCSN. Good news is that Cory Schneider returns to the net after leaving the first game due to cramps. It looked more serious, but fortunately isn’t for the Devils.

It will be a special night for Simmonds, who’s a good guy. Maybe he rises to the occasion and gets one of those tips for a power play goal to spark his new team.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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