You hear it all the time, National Hockey League players are warriors, soldiers that will play hurt, battered and bruised and still look completely fine on the ice when they win a game. None of the European football crap: the guys are tough and get back up no matter how hurt they can be on the ice. Everything I just said is truly an understatement when it comes to one veteran forward this season. After a long season, fighting to clinch a playoff spot, the Philadelphia Flyers made it to the postseason to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in their first round series. While they fell in six games and were eliminated from the Stanley Cup race, forward Wayne Simmonds achieved the impossible: he played the entire season and playoffs with more injuries than you could ever imagined.
As reported by NBC Sports Philadelphia, despite suffering “a tear in his pelvic area, fractured ankle, pulled groin, busted mouth (twice) and the torn ligament in his thumb” during this season, Simmonds missed only seven games this year.
"I think for me, I don't know if it's the right thing, but I can't not play," Simmonds said. "It's just geared in my head to where if I'm not dead or I'm not deathly sick, I'm going to try and get out there and do whatever I can. Whether the coach is going to play me, or whatever minutes he wanted to play me, that was up to him. I'm definitely going to sacrifice my body for the team, that's for sure."
While some players, like teammate Jakub Voracek, have struggled with extreme fatigue once their season is completed, what Simmonds has been able to put up with is mind boggling. Simmonds' pelvic tear was diagnosed in training camp, but he played the entire season, delaying the surgery that would have sidelined him for a month or two.
"They showed me the MRI and I was like, 'Can I play?'" Simmonds said. "Yeah, I can play."
However, the 29-year-old realizes now it might not have been the best decision for himself and his career.
"Having that, that leaves other things," Simmonds said. "Your body is overcompensating and other stuff starts breaking down. It wasn't good."
The seven games Simmonds missed were because he broke his ankle while blocking a shot, which prevented him from being on the ice from Feb. 20 to March 4. That's without counting the serious dental work he also underwent in February.
Simmonds, who said surgery on his pelvis is likely, now faces an offseason in which he's eligible for an extension starting July 1 ahead of his 2018-19 contract year. One thing Flyers management will have to admit: the guy is a tough cookie anyone would be lucky to call a teammate.