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‘I was born to be a Flyer' — Simmonds comes home for proper salute

Simmonds signed a one-day contract with the Flyers and was honored by the organization and fans

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Wayne Simmonds grew up in Scarborough, Ontario and finished his career with his hometown Maple Leafs.

But Philadelphia will always be his NHL roots. And on Saturday, Simmonds was back home.

"I'm extremely honored to be a Flyer for the rest of my life," he said.

It's only fitting.

The quintessential power forward officially retired as a Flyer after signing a one-day contract with the organization. He was honored by the Flyers with a pregame video tribute Saturday and a ceremonial puck drop.

Simmonds personified the city's spirit and captured the hearts of Flyers fans over parts of eight seasons.

"The words 'true Flyer' are thrown around a lot and for good reason. But Wayne was the consummate Flyer," Flyers president of hockey operations Keith Jones said in a press conference at the Wells Fargo Center. "Tough as nails, first guy to be there to protect his teammates, a really productive player at the same time. It's really tough to do all of those things.

"And then he gave back not just to his team, his coaching staff, his managers, but to the community. A really important piece of the Flyers' history and it's so great to have you back."

After being acquired by the Flyers during June 2011 in the trade that sent former captain Mike Richards to the Kings, Simmonds went on to score 203 goals with the orange and black. His 91 power play goals are seventh most in franchise history. He put up back-to-back 30-plus-goal seasons, played in 30 playoff games and was the 2017 All-Star Game MVP. He put his body through hell for the Flyers and his teammates.

"I was born to be a Flyer," Simmonds said. "Just the way I went about it, playing my game. I started in L.A. and then once I got traded here, it was perfect. There was no other place I'd want to play. Tough, blue-collar mentality. Score goals, hit, fight, protect your teammates. Take care of your friends, on and off the ice, and the community, as well. It's what this organization encompasses and that's the human I am, so it was a perfect fit."

More: Simmonds, 'through and through a Flyer,' earned his flowers

Simmonds and his wife Crystal have two young daughters and a baby boy. His daughters have always known him as a Maple Leaf. Now they've seen where their dad "became a man," Simmonds said.

"The last couple of days have been amazing," he said. "This organization is great, they've treated us unbelievable. We were over at the practice facility the other day and my middle daughter, she ripped off her sweater and put on her Flyers jersey immediately. It was very cool to see. It has just been a very special couple of days for my family and I.

"At home, everything's Philly. Everything's black, everything's orange for me at home. I've got a little bit of work to do with my oldest daughter because she likes the Leafs. I think we can figure that one out."

Simmonds called his eight years in Philadelphia the greatest years of his life. The Flyers want to have him involved in the organization and its community efforts down the road.

"The way you played the game exemplified not only how Ed Snider, the founder of the organization, anticipated that a Flyer would play, but the way each of you held each other accountable, day in and day out," Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO and Flyers governor Dan Hilferty said. "That was not only on the ice, but it was also in the community. What you did for Snider Hockey and education, you were always there."

He was back Saturday, feeling the love from Philly again.

"The fans mean everything," Simmonds said. "Without the fans, you're not able to do what you can do, right? ... For me, myself personally, they're what drove me."

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