SUNRISE, Fla. – The thought of trading Wayne Simmonds at the Feb. 25 NHL deadline brings to mind those television insurance ads involving belt buckles.
The two cowboys in the commercial are discussing the merits of the company, with the premise that you get “more’’ by staying with this one particular outfit.
Each time the gentleman who got “more’’ is on camera, his belt buckle grows in size.
In the final scene, the old-timer rhetorically tells his sidekick: “It’s hard to argue with more.’’
The camera switches to the original cowpoke, now wearing a belt buckle the size of a manhole cover and responds in an equally rhetorical tone: “Why would ya?’’
This is all a roundabout way of answering people who believe the Flyers should get rid of Wayne Simmonds while the getting is good.
To which we would respond: “Why would ya?’’
There are those who would counter with: He’s 30 years old, there’s a lot of mileage on the tires and he’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season with a hefty contract demand in hand.
Why not trade him now while he can bring back prospects or draft picks?
We say, his value can’t be measured in years or dollars. So if the Flyers are within, say, four points of a playoff berth in the standings on Feb. 25, we say keep him.
The guy gives you everything.
In fact, compared to the average star player, Simmonds does indeed give you “more.’’
>Scores 25 to 30 goals per season.
>Connects on the power play more often than anyone except Alexander Ovechkin (since the 2011-12 season).
>Comes to the aid of teammates in distress.
>Drops the gloves and initiates with guys who outweigh him by close to a hundred pounds, just to get his bench fired up.
>Tells it like it is to the media/public, especially taking personal responsibility for individual and team sub-par performances.
>Stays active in the community, including the Wayne’s Warriors charity program.
Should we go on?
No need to. Let his teammates do the talking.
“Everybody in here knows who Wayne is, he’s the heart and soul. . .he’s always going to leave it out there,’’ Jake Voracek said.
“He’s an emotional guy. Obviously, with his contract expiring, it’s kind of a tough situation for him because he really wants to stay here.’’
Simmonds is one of the greatest alternate captains in Flyers’ history. He’s not timid about calling out a player if he’s not getting the job done.
Voracek and the rest of the Flyers appreciate that sort of honesty.
“He’s one of my best friends,’’ Voracek said. “We were roommates for a very long time. We get along very well. We don’t talk very much about what’s going to happen. I think it’s better to leave it up to him and his agent.’’
This season, Simmonds has recovered from last year’s injury-riddled campaign and has 11 goals in 36 games — good but not great.
Still, he’s contributed in so many other ways.
Like the fight against the Penguins’ 6-foot-7, 260-pound defenseman Jamie Oleksiak at Pittsburgh on the night of Dec. 1.
The Flyers had not shown much fight all year but Simmonds took on the Goliath and basically fought to a draw, although his face took a bit of a pounding. The Philadelphia bench got energized and went on to a 4-2 win.
“He (Simmonds) is tough to fight against,’’ Voracek said with a smile. “Nobody wants to fight him. I wish I had that problem. He does everything.’’
Scott Laughton arrived in the 2012-13 season as an 18-year-old rookie and saw right off the jump what Simmonds means to the team.
“I don’t think the players look too much into what’s going on (contract-wise) on the outside,’’ Laughton said. “We just enjoy having him here.
“Hopefully he sticks around with us.’’
Laughton agreed with Voracek that the Oleksiak fight showed Simmonds’ competitive nature.
“Anytime you do that, I think the guys really appreciate it,’’ Laughton said. “He’s bleeding and everything like that. When he fights a guy who’s 6-7, the guys appreciate it.’’
There’s a good chance Simmonds won’t be around come late February unless new GM Chuck Fletcher can somehow negotiate a new contract.
Simmonds figures to be asking for something in the James van Riemsdyk range (five years, $35 million).
The Flyers probably don’t want to commit to that length of a deal.
“We, as the players, would love to have him around for a longer period of time,’’ Voracek said. “But in the end, he has to do what’s best for him.’’
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