When the Flyers acquired Wayne Simmonds as part of a blockbuster 2011 deal, they knew they were getting a rugged player who had been a checking-line right winger with the Los Angeles Kings.

Five years later, the player known as the Wayne Train has blossomed into one of the NHL's elite power forwards.

"I thought I knew how good a player Simmer was, and I got an education last year on just how valuable he is as a player and a leader and a person," second-year coach Dave Hakstol said. "He's a complete package."

Simmonds, 28, still plays with a physical, edgy style, just as he did during his days with the Kings. But he has added a scoring touch that isn't common among players who collect 100-plus penalty minutes each season.

"He plays mean, but he can also play a skilled game," said Brayden Schenn, who probably knows Simmonds better than anyone, having been his Kings teammate before coming to the Flyers in the same trade.

Last season, Simmonds led the Flyers with a career-high 32 goals - 13 on the power play, which ranked sixth in the league - while accumulating 147 penalty minutes. He was the only NHL player to score at least 25 goals and reach triple-digits in penalty minutes.

Simmonds has been the definition of consistency since being acquired with Schenn and a second-round draft pick in the stunning deal that sent captain Mike Richards to the Kings.

His goal totals in his five seasons with the Flyers: 28, 27 (pro-rated in a lockout-shortened season), 29, 28, and 32.

That's an average of 29 goals per season.

Not bad for a guy who averaged 13 goals per season during his three years in Los Angeles, where he was more of a defensive specialist.

"When he came here, he got an opportunity, and he just ran with it," Schenn said. "On the power play, you're not going to see a better guy in front in the league. He goes to the hard areas and has such good hands around the net, and he's one of those guys who cares about his teammates and would do anything for him."

Witness his team-high five fights last season, many of them sticking up for one of his teammates.


Though he has blossomed into one of the league's most dependable players, Simmonds has never made an all-star team, and he was bypassed for a spot on Team Canada at the World Cup. Simmonds smiled when asked if he felt underappreciated.

"It's fine with me," Simmonds said. "I've flown under the radar my whole life. I'm just here to help my team in any way I can, and all the individual stuff gets pushed to the side."

With the Kings, Michal Handzus was Simmonds' center for his three seasons. They were part of a no-frills line that did a lot of the grunt work. Simmonds didn't mind the role but knew he had more to give.

Getting dealt to the Flyers "was a blessing in disguise for me," he said. "Obviously, I loved playing in L.A., but I got traded here, and Lavy put me into an offensive position right from Day 1."

Simmonds, an Ontario native and diehard Toronto Blue Jays fan, was referring to former Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, who put Simmonds on a line centered by Danny Briere. Schenn was frequently on the left side.

No longer was he a checking-line specialist.

"It was a nice change," Simmonds said.

Coming cross country with his L.A. teammate Schenn, who had yet to play a full NHL season, also had its benefits.

"I think having Schenner here helped me," Simmonds said.

They have been linemates for a good part of their tenure with the Flyers. Both had career-best seasons in 2015-16.

"Just having that familiar face with me was huge," Simmonds said. "I think we continued to build on it in Philly."

Following O'Ree

Simmonds is now one of the league's most respected players. But if it wasn't for a trailblazer named Willie O'Ree, he might never have dreamed of reaching the NHL. O'Ree is to the NHL what Jackie Robinson is to Major League Baseball: an iconic pioneer.

In 1958, O'Ree became the NHL's first black player. He made Simmonds believe at a young age that playing pro hockey was a possibility.

"He had an effect on every single player of color coming into this league," Simmonds said after he spoke with O'Ree following a practice at the team's Voorhees facility late last season. O'Ree was in the area for duties connected to his job as the NHL's director of youth development and ambassador for diversity.

"Without him, we wouldn't even be in this league . . . so there's a lot of respect I have for Mr. O'Ree," Simmonds said. "He's the reason I'm here."

Simmonds said he has been aware of O'Ree since he started playing hockey at age 6. He did projects in school on O'Ree, a speedy winger who played 45 career games and scored four goals with Boston.

"I wanted to know as much as I could about him," he said. "I'm a black hockey player, and you have to know your roots. You have to know where you came from before you go anywhere else."

Hakstol said there's an "element of respect and fear" that Simmonds brings that "carries through opponents."

"I remember seeing him in junior, and he wasn't a great player," said Flyers general manager Ron Hextall, who was a Kings assistant GM when Simmonds was dealt to Philadelphia. "He was OK. He's gotten better and better and better and better."

The Wayne Train is firmly on track.