As the National Hockey League and its players brace for yet another potential lockout, no reasonable fan wants to see this sport be stopped. While Simmonds' contract news serves as a pleasant mid-August distraction, the idea of not being able to see him and all of his colleagues perform this fall (or winter?) remains very unsettling.
Kings to Flyers
It seems like a long time ago that general manager Paul Holmgren shook up the hockey world by dealing Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings and Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets on the same June 2011 day. Of course, Simmonds was one of the players realized in that Kings' transaction.
Following that frenzy, the Flyers produced a decent regular season, followed by a less than stellar playoff run. Meanwhile, the Kings won the Stanley Cup, which means that (for now) they have won that trade.
Everyone can nitpick that last comment if they like, but I'm still okay with 'Homer' having dealt both of those players. Richards and Carter (later traded to the Kings by the Blue Jackets) were secondary factors on a strong Los Angeles team (that had a great goaltender) and the Flyers received quality back in return for them.
Great Philadelphia warriors
Simmonds would have been entering the final season of his current contract, valued at $1.75 million, and was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Full details of his extension will be available shortly, but it's believed to be in the range of $4 million per season.
This soon-to-be 24-year-old (August 26) is a rising power forward in the League and played like a real Flyer last season. He clearly became an important part of Holmgren's rebuilt young core. While other players have been signed to lengthy deals and then were subsequently dealt long before their agreements had ended, Simmonds seems likely to remain in town for awhile.
He produced a solid 2011-12 season during his first hockey year in orange and black, averaging 15:55 TOI (time on the ice per game), scoring 28 goals, adding 21 assists, and generating 114 penalty minutes. This man is an intimidating force who aggressively creates consistent opportunities for his teammates (and for himself) to succeed.
Seeing Simmonds and his grotesque open wounds up close in the locker room, after a game against the Ottawa Senators last season, told me all that I needed to know about his inner toughness. That was the March 31 contest where he received a huge gash above his right eye and nose, but was treated during the game and continued to play.
A puck shot by Brayden Schenn actually hit him in that area of his face and then deflected into the net. A hard way to have earned his twenty-sixth goal of the season to say the least.
Simmonds reminds me of other great warriors like Rick Tocchet and the previously mentioned Holmgren. Now, with his new contract extension in-hand, he has the opportunity to create his own mark on the Flyers' franchise well into the foreseeable future.
Sean O'Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He has written professionally for over two decades and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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