NHLer with Maritime roots named All-Star MVP
Published Wednesday, February 1, 2017 7:04PM AST
When you think about East Coast hockey stars Sidney Crosby, Brad Marchand, and Nathan MacKinnon come to mind, but it was another player with Maritime roots who took home the MVP trophy at this year’s NHL All-Star Weekend.
Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds scored three times in two games for the Metro Division, securing himself the most valuable player award and a new truck to go with it.
His father, Cyril Simmonds, proudly watched his son in the spotlight from his home in Nova Scotia.
“I started crying to myself like a baby,” says Cyril Simmonds.
When he was just 16, Cyril moved to Toronto from North Preston, N.S. He went on to raise his five kids in Scarborough, but missed home and moved back to Nova Scotia two years ago.
Cyril says Wayne loved sports from an early age.
“He wanted to play baseball, he loved lacrosse, then one of his buddies said ‘let's go skating’ and it took off from there,” says Cyril Simmonds.
Cyril credits a coach with the Toronto Aces for lighting a fire under his son when Wayne was just a boy – a coach that liked to challenge his players.
“Michael Hutton…just the way he used to say it to the guys, 'you're not going to amount to nothing.' Don't get me wrong, he was a great coach, but just the way he went about it,” says Cyril Simmonds. “Wayne said to me one day, he cursed, he said ‘I'm gonna prove that (bleep) wrong, I'm gonna prove him wrong.’”
Wayne Simmonds makes a habit of proving people wrong. He didn't break into the Ontario Hockey League until he was 18, yet a year later he made Canada's 2008 World Junior team.
Cyril still remembers that phone call.
“I think that was the first time I ever fell out of the chair! Really, that was a great moment,” recalls Cyril Simmonds.
The following season Wayne cracked the Los Angeles Kings line-up as a 20-year-old rookie. In 2011, he was traded to the Flyers and his career has since taken off.
Last season, Wayne scored a career-high 32 goals, while also building a reputation as one of hockey's toughest fighters.
Cyril says his son has learned a lot from the game's trailblazers, like Willie O'Ree. Now, Wayne gives back, holding an annual hockey camp in his hometown.
“He puts it on in Scarborough, just for the less fortunate kids to help them out and that,” says Cyril Simmonds.
Not only was Wayne the All-Star MVP, he is also the NHL’s player of the week.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jayson Baxter