Wayne Simmonds broke his silence Tuesday.
The Flyers' right winger had declined to talk about Saturday's incident against the New York Rangers, but comments made by Blueshirts coach Alain Vigneault raised his ire.
Simmonds was cross-checked in the head by defenseman Ryan McDonagh in the Flyers' 3-2 shootout loss to the Rangers on Saturday. He retaliated with a punch that put McDonagh down on the ice.
Simmonds received a match penalty for intent to injure and a game misconduct, while McDonagh got two minors (slashing, high-sticking). The NHL decided not to suspend Simmonds.
Vigneault was furious that Simmonds wasn't disciplined.
"What I didn't expect was the reaction from the league," he told the New York Daily News. "An all-star player gets sucker-punched [and] goes down. I wonder if that's [the Penguins' Sidney] Crosby what happens or what the consequence is."
Simmonds, the Flyers' leader with 18 goals entering Tuesday, shook his head when asked about Vigneault's comments.
"Vigneault can say whatever he wants. He's their coach and that's his opinion. I don't really care," Simmonds said Tuesday after the Flyers' morning skate. "I'm protecting myself. Guy comes in and cross-checks you in the head, I don't know what you expect to get back, to be honest. I had no intentions of hurting him and I feel bad about that."
McDonagh suffered a concussion.
"My intentions are never to go out there and intentionally injure somebody," Simmonds added. "That's not what I want, but sometimes things happen in a game and we can't take them back now."
Simmonds said the fact the league did not suspend him backed up his claim.
"I see a lot of . . . people discussing it," he said of the incident, "and they seem to cut out half the play. That's all right with me. I don't really care. I know what happened. Obviously, the league knows what happened or maybe I would have gotten a suspension."
Simmonds has never been suspended in his 575-game NHL career.
"I'm not a dirty player," he said. "I may play physical. I take the body and fight the occasional time, but in no means am I a dirty player trying to run around and injure players. That's never been my M.O. and never will be."
Circle the Flyers' Sunday night rematch with the host Rangers on your calendar. It should be interesting.
Before the game Tuesday against Anaheim, Hall of Famers Mark Howe, Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber, and Bernie Parent participated in the ceremonial puck drop, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Flyers' franchise being awarded in 1966. They were joined by Donna Ashbee (wife of the late Barry Ashbee) and two charter season-ticket holders, Edgar Weinrott and Joe Sahina.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of both teams, the Flyers and Penguins' alumni will play a game at the Wells Fargo Center in 2017. No date has been set.
The Flyers and Penguins (the real teams) are expected to play at Heinz Field in February.
Wanting more physicality on the back end against the Ducks, Flyers coach Dave Hakstol used Brandon Manning over Evgeny Medvedev. . . . Michal Neuvirth, sidelined with a lower-body injury, skated in the morning and is getting closer to returning.