PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For the first time since Feb. 13, 2011, Wayne Simmonds will step onto the Wells Fargo Center ice wearing the enemy’s colors Wednesday night. He’s admittedly a little bitter about it too.
Simmonds returns to Philadelphia for the first time since the Flyers traded the right winger to the Nashville Predators on Feb. 25, marking the end of a seven-plus season marriage.
In the hallways of the Wells Fargo Center, Simmonds opened up about how it all ended in Philly before the Flyers’ home opener against the Devils. It wasn’t all pretty either.
“Quite honestly, I think I was a little bit bitter,” he said. “I put so much time, sweat and tears into this organization. I thought I did everything I possibly could to at least deserve a little bit of an extension.
“It’s a business at the same time, but it also sucks to hear that you’re not obviously thought of as you think you’re thought of. It definitely put a little bit of bitterness into it.”
When asked if he thought the Flyers would attempt to re-sign him in the offseason, Simmonds said no.
“Leave it in the past. I wasn’t a piece of the puzzle they wanted to be here so why would I want to come back?” he said. “Nothing to do with the fanbase. It’s just the way it is. You have to put things in the rearview mirror.”
Simmonds quickly became a darling of Philly sports fans. He threw his weight around, he scored greasy goals and he stood up for his teammates.
He was, for a lack of a better term, a Flyer.
“They just want someone to come to the rink and put an honest effort in every single night,” Simmonds said of the fans. “Somebody who’s going to battle through and through, whether you’re up or you’re down.
“I think that’s why I got the love of the fans here. I came to the rink every day and handled my business and did everything in a professional manner. I got adopted by the fans. It was nice.”
From 2011-12 to 2018-19, no other Flyer scored more goals. Simmonds registered 203 goals in 584 regular-season games donning the Orange and Black.
All the while, he did so on a team-friendly contract — six years at a $3.975 million cap hit.
His final two seasons with the Flyers were slowed by injuries, which impacted his numbers. After a 24-goal season in 2017-18, Simmonds scored 17 in 2018-19 and then 16 in 62 games last season before the trade.
Simmonds said Wednesday last season was “awful.” Things didn’t really get better once he got to Nashville.
The power forward scored just one goal and three points in 17 games with the Predators. He was pointless in two playoff games.
That big long-term contract many expected Simmonds to get before last season never surfaced. Not in Philadelphia, not in Nashville. Instead, he settled on a one-year, $5 million contract with the Devils.
“I have complete faith in myself,” he said. “Whether I had to take a one-year deal or whatever it was, I didn’t really care because I know that I’m going to come back and be a great player this year.
“To me, it was what it is and I just had to find a team that was willing to take a chance on me.”