Simmonds played his way through five major injuries

Wayne Simmonds

VOORHEES, N.J. – Do you have five minutes?

Good. Because it’s going to take just about that long to review all of Wayne Simmonds’ injuries this past season.

Let’s see if we have them all:

Torn pelvis in training camp?

Check.

Broken ankle?

Check.

Pulled groin?

Check.

Broken hand?

Check.

Six teeth lost on one play?

Check and double-check.

Yes, it was that kind of season for the Flyers’ venerable right wing, who still managed to score 24 goals and play in 75 of 82 regular-season games, plus all six in the playoffs.

Simmonds gave it the old “aw, shucks’’ routine at Flyers’ break-up day on Wednesday at the Skate Zone but no one was fooled by that act.

His teammates hold him in the highest regard.

Simmonds led a contingent of pain-fighting Flyers which includes Ivan Provorov (Grade 3 ACL shoulder sprain), goalie Michal Neuvirth (post-season surgery on both hips), along with goalie Brian Elliott (recovering from core muscle surgery) and Sean Couturier (torn right knee MCL).

There was never a question of surgery to fix Simmonds’ pelvis, at least not in training camp, because he didn’t want to miss any time.

But he will have an operation in the offseason.

“I thought I would be able to play through it,’’ he said. “I didn’t play up to my expectations this year. It was a very frustrating year. Things didn’t go the way I wanted, but if I can play, I’m going to play.’’

Simmonds took friendly fire from a Shayne Gostisbehere which broke his ankle, but it wasn’t a weight-bearing bone, so he played on. He actually lost the half-dozen teeth sitting on the Flyers’ bench. An errant stick from an opponent did the damage.

But he didn’t take time off.

“I can’t ‘not’ play,’’ Simmonds said. “It’s just geared in my head. Unless I’m deathly sick, I’m going to go out there and do what I can.’’

No wonder he’s a finalist for the NHL/Mark Messier Leadership Award.

Provorov says it will take six to eight weeks to get things in his shoulder back to normal.

But there was no question he was going to lay it all out there in Game 6.

“I did all the tests with all the doctors before the game and they said I was good to go and it was up to me then,’’ Provorov recalled.

“Like I said (after Game 6), as long as my arm was attached I was playing. It was really frustrating going down, playing in the third period where I was starting to lose the feel for my arm, lost the puck a bunch of times and turned it over. As a competitor, it’s hard to not be out there and not try to do everything to help the team win.”

Provorov has played in all 170 regular-season and playoff games he’s been eligible to play in. He wasn’t about to let the streak end, not only because Game 6 had such high stakes, but because he takes pride in that streak.

“I said every time I play I go out there and do everything I can to help the team win,’’ Provorov said. “For two periods I was doing that; in the third, I had a few turnovers that led to goals. You never mean to do that. It’s unfortunate that that happened, but for me I was just trying to help the team.”

Elliott missed nearly two months and when he returned for the final two games of the regular season, he knew he wasn’t in tip-top shape.

He said the rehab for the surgery was the “biggest challenge’’ of his career.

“Yeah,’’ Elliott said. “It was big. It was a pretty major surgery. About a month ago I couldn’t put on my socks or tie my shoes. Making the strides that we did to get back on the ice and play in an NHL game. . . it was gloomy there for a little bit when you’re reaching down and you can’t even put your sock on to walk out the door. It was definitely tough, but it got better and the trainers and doctors said be patient with it and it’ll come back. It’s gloomy sometimes when you can’t really see the end of the tunnel there.’’

What did he learn about himself in the process?

“Definitely look internally,’’ Elliott said. “You have some bad days where you’re like there’s no way I can come back this season, and then you have some good days. It’s trying to manage that up and down. We talk about it during games too, your emotions and managing.

“The injury was new for me with that surgery and not really knowing how it should feel at what point, and having the patience for things to get better.  My support system was huge, my wife keeping me on track and saying it’ll get better, don’t worry. It’s good to have people in your corner pulling for you.’’

 

Wayne Fish
About Wayne Fish 380 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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