Flyers trade up to draft Wisdom, whose mentor is Wayne Simmonds

Zayde Wisdom
      When Zayde Wisdom was little and growing up in what might be optimistically described as challenging conditions, he had to make trips to a local food bank and wondered when the power in his home might go off again.
      Wisdom was an aspiring hockey player, as much for the love of the game as a way of helping himself and his family get out of the trying situation they were in.
      “I’m going to make it one day,’’ Wisdom told the Athletic earlier this year. “And I’m going to make sure our power never goes off again.’’
      Well, it looks like the days of worrying about nourishment and electricity are over.
      That’s because the Flyers traded their 116th and 147th picks to Tampa Bay on Wednesday to move up to 94th, whereupon they selected Wisdom, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound right wing who excelled for Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League last season.
      General manager Chuck Fletcher knows Wisdom is a raw talent but he was willing to make the trade because of the youngster’s compete level and drive to make it to the top.
      “Zayde’s story is remarkable,’’ Fletcher said. “It’s incredible what he’s overcome to get to this point. He seems to have some strong people in his corner that provided support along the way.
      “He’s clearly worked hard for everything he’s earned. I think he has an understated skill level. His hands are pretty good, he has a very good shot, goes to the right places on the ice. When you combine that with his relentless pursuit of pucks, his forecheck, it’s a pretty attractive package.
      Wisdom’s dad was a long-haul truck driver from Jamaica. The son was raised by his mother, Mary, and his grandmother, Kitty.
      Zayde’s dream was to someday in the NHL and now he’s one step closer.
      He took part in former Flyer Wayne Simmonds’ ball hockey tournaments in the Toronto area and the two struck up a friendship.
      “I just think he’s got that ‘It’ Factor,” Simmonds said of Wisdom. “He’s gone through a lot as a young kid, you could tell in his demeanor. He came to my ball hockey tournaments and you could tell he had that drive. He had all the skills in the world, he just loved to play the game, he had that passion for it, and you see that now as he’s going through Kingston.”
      Wisdom said he plans to call Simmonds soon to share this special moment.
      “I’m sure he (Simmonds) will have tons of advice and great stories from Philly,’’ Wisdom said during a media Webex call. “I’m excited to go.’’
      Learning stuff from Simmonds has already helped his progress, according to Wisdom.
      “A ton,’’ Wisdom said. “Having a guy like that who’s played in the league for that long and still playing in the league to this day is amazing.
      “He’s a veteran guy, a grizzled guy. He’s been through most of the stuff that the league has to offer. Having a guy like that in your corner where he’s giving you advice and letting you know what your best decision would be, advising. . .that was a ton (of help).’’
      He wasn’t certain he was head to Philadelphia but there might have been an inkling.
      “I always knew Philly was in consideration,’’ he said. “I played their type of hockey, big body. The Broad Street Bullies as they’re known. . .big body kind of hockey. So, they were always there for me in my mind. Super excited to hear my name by the Broad Street Bullies for sure.’’
      Wisdom certainly isn’t lacking for confidence.
      “My goal is to reach the NHL as fast as possible,’’ he said. “I’m going to be working night and day to try to get better and improve my skills. I know I’m not good enough now to play in the league. But I plan on getting there soon.
      “I would say 90 percent of my game is work, perseverance and willingness to go to dirty areas. I’ve worked hard and grinded my whole life to get to this moment and I feel it’s amazing to be here.’’
      >Desnoyers a big Rocky fan
      Left wing Eliot Desnoyers was taken in the fifth round at pick No. 135.
      He was asked what he knows about Philadelphia.
      “I remember watching the tough Flyers, I love how they compete hard,’’ he said. “When I think about Philadelphia, I think about the movies – ‘Rocky’. . .I grew up watching them with my brothers. That was a big part of it when I was a child.’’
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About Wayne Fish 2452 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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