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Wayne Simmonds officially retires as ‘Flyer forever’

PHILADELPHIA — Every professional athlete who works here has a “Welcome to Philly” moment with the fans. And so it was for Wayne Simmonds, who on Saturday retired as a Flyer after signing a one-day contract the day before.

Simmonds’ welcome wasn’t as loud as Jake Elliott’s 61-yard field goal as time expired, lifting the Eagles to victory over the hated Giants in 2017. It was true blue collar, though, like Jim Thome’s exit from a limo in Dec. 2002 to put on a hard hat and join a group of electricians helping put together Citizens Bank Park.

But to the Philly players who called Simmonds a teammate and consider him a Flyer forever, it was something as epic, yet different as Bobby Clarke’s overtime goal in Game 2 sparking them to victory over the Bruins and ultimately their first Stanley Cup Trophy in 1974.

Simmonds felt he was embraced by Philly fans after a fight he always will remember, just not for winning and losing.

“I remember my second game playing the New Jersey Devils and fighting David Clarkson,” Simmonds said in front of a large audience at a news conference Saturday at Wells Fargo Center. “After that, it was just like an outpouring of love and support for me. And I’ll never forget that.”

Flyers fans will never forget Simmonds, who scored 263 goals, 263 assists and was whistled for 1,313 penalty minutes in 1,037 NHL games spent with six teams over 17 seasons.

Simmonds, 35, was the guy who had his teammates’ backs no matter the odds.

“The words ‘true Flyer’ are thrown around a lot, and for good reason,” former Flyer and current team president Keith Jones said. “But Wayne was the consummate Flyer. Tough as nails, the first guy to be there to protect his teammates. A real productive player at the same time, which is really tough to do with all of those things. And he gave back to not just his team, his coaching staff, his managers, but to the community. A really important piece of the Flyers’ history.”

After the game Scott Laughton, who played eight seasons with Simmonds, called his friend “the ultimate Flyer.

“He really embodies what it is to be a Flyer,” said Laughton, whose pass freed Travis Konecny to score the only goal of in a 1-0 win over the Devils.

Simmonds was active in the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation teaching hockey and lessons of life. Dan Hilferty, Chairman and CEO of Comcast Spectacor applauded Lindy Snider, daughter of the late Ed Snider and a board member of the Snider youth program along with Simmonds. All are Flyers for life.

From teaching kids the game of hockey to signing autographs, Simmonds accommodated Flyers fans in many ways. That was part of a video along with the fight in which Simmonds decked Clarkson. For Simmonds, it all came full circle Saturday when he stepped onto the ice one last time under contract.

From blood and sweat to near tears, Saturday, Wayne Simmonds’ loyalty to the Flyers and the Philadelphia area is undying.

“I had the greatest eight years of my life here,” Simmonds said. “There’s no way I’d want to go out than to be remembered as a Flyer. I’ve been reminiscing a lot the last couple days I’ve been here, and I have three small children. One is turning 5, 2, and a 4-month old. I grew up here. I became a man in Philadelphia. For me to be able to show them what this city means to me is extremely special. I’m kind of lost for words. I’m extremely honored to be a Flyer for the rest of my life.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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