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Simmonds, ‘through and through a Flyer,' earned his flowers

Simmonds will sign a one-day contract with the Flyers and be honored April 13 in Philadelphia

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Everyone knew Wayne Simmonds as one of the NHL's most feared players and a technician around the net.

He'd fight anyone for a teammate and outwork anyone for a goal.

But the Flyers also saw a gentle force, a guy who was as nurturing as he was tough.

"He'd always try to make everyone around him feel comfortable," Sean Couturier said Monday. "Just a nice guy overall. I think on the ice, you guys saw big, mean 'Wayne Train,' but off the ice, he was really just a sweet guy and had everyone around him to heart."

His former teammates are excited to watch him have his day in Philadelphia. Simmonds officially announced his retirement Monday. The 35-year-old will sign a one-day contract with the Flyers and be honored April 13 at the Wells Fargo Center as the club takes on the Devils (5 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

"I got so much love from the fans there, it was just important to me that I did give it my all," Simmonds said Monday. "I gave everything I had to Philadelphia. It kind of cut my career short, but I wouldn't change it one bit."

As a 19-year-old rookie, Travis Konecny learned from watching Simmonds. Konecny, now an alternate captain at 27, played parts of three seasons with Simmonds.

"He was an incredible teammate, one of the best guys I've ever played with," Konecny said Monday. "Off the ice, he was always looking to have a good time and laugh. But I think on the ice, most importantly, he showed me a lot and taught me a lot about being a competitor, what it takes to bring it every single night. I think Simmy's one of the guys that cared more than anybody I've ever played with. He was a great mentor for me."

Simmonds scored 203 goals in parts of eight seasons with the Flyers. As he grew into a leader, he would invite younger teammates over to his place every Thanksgiving.

"He was one of the guys that took care of me outside of the rink," former Flyers defenseman Robert Hagg said in October 2019. "I remember I went over for Christmas, for Thanksgiving, stuff like that. Both him and his wife Crystal took care of me really well."

Konecny said that went a long way.

"As I get older," Konecny said, "things that he used to do, I'd like to take on myself."

Couturier very much came up with Simmonds. The Flyers' captain was a rookie when Simmonds played his first season in Philadelphia.

"He was the ultimate teammate, warrior, he'd do anything for his teammates," Couturier said. "He had a big impact on the city, on and off the ice. He was really involved in the community and it just shows you the type of person he is, the character he has and I definitely learned a lot from a leader like him, that's for sure."

It's fitting that Simmonds will retire in Philly.

"He deserves this day, he deserves it," Konecny said. "He is through and through a Flyer. What it means to be a Philadelphia Flyer, he checked all the boxes."

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