Before leaving for Los Angeles and playing in his first All-Star Game, Flyers right winger Wayne Simmonds said he planned to enjoy his return to the city where he started his NHL career.
Turns out he was serious.
Simmonds scored the game-winning goal Sunday with 4 minutes, 48 seconds left as the Metropolitan Division edged the Pacific Division, 4-3, in the final of the three-on-three NHL All-Star Game.
He was the second Flyer to ever win the all-star MVP award. Reggie Leach won it in 1980.
"It's all pretty surreal. I don't even know if I realize what's going on right now," Simmonds told reporters after the game. "But it's pretty cool, and I'm lucky I have some family members here. My fiancé is here, so I get to enjoy this moment with them. It's been an awesome weekend for me."
In the semifinals, Simmonds scored two goals to help the Metro advance to the final by defeating the Atlantic Division, 10-6.
Simmonds won a 2017 Honda Ridgeline truck for being named the MVP.
"I'm taking those decals off for sure," he said, smiling. "No clue what I'm going to do with (the truck). Maybe somebody - my mom, dad, brothers or somebody - needs a car or something like that. I don't need it. It's a nice luxury to have, but who knows what I do with it. Maybe I donate it. Maybe I give it to a family member. But I'm not too sure. I haven't really thought about it."
The 28-year-old Simmonds received a loud ovation from the L.A. fans.
"It meant a lot. I haven't been here for six years," said Simmonds, who gets to split the winning share - $1 million - with his All-Star teammates. "I got traded when I was still 22 years old….When you leave a place, you don't expect to come back and get all the cheers as I did today, but I must have done something right when I was here. I know I had a lot of die-hard fans here, and I really appreciate those people. I just appreciate everything. It made me feel good today.
"Everyone still remembers me here, so I'm definitely grateful for that. It was awesome."
Simmonds plays with a physical edge, but since the All-Star Game lacks hitting, what was his mindset heading into Sunday's action?
"Just don't make yourself look like an idiot; don't dump and chase," he said. "Just try to keep the puck on your stick, and there were a lot of great players around me, obviously, so it was more thinking I was going to defer to everybody else, to be honest with you. But it ended up that I had some big goals. It was great playing with all those guys. There's a lot of great players in the Metro Division."
Simmonds, who already has 21 goals this season, said he was proud of the NHL's growing diversity.
"I think if you look around the game now, you're starting to see different ethnicities, not only black. It's starting to open up a little bit, and that's the goal here," he said. "We're trying to spread the game. We're not necessarily trying to change the look of it, but just get different people in it and you get different avenues. Hockey is for everybody, so it's a great sport. I'm just trying to be a good ambassador."