The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Tom Wilson on Wayne Simmonds: ‘I hope I didn’t wake him up’

(By Alex Brandon / AP)
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Tom Wilson’s bout with Wayne Simmonds Thursday night did more than sideline the Flyers’ best scorer. It also pitted Wilson against a player he considers a mentor, and someone he has worked out with during the last several offseasons.

“He’s a real awesome guy off the ice,” Wilson said of Simmonds. “He’s played a huge role in kind of where I’ve gotten to. You go home in the offseason; the in-season stuff kind of calms down and then you have time to reflect, and he’s always been there, in my workout group. … He’s been kind of a mentor for me, but none of that matters right now. I’m sure he won’t be too happy with me, and we’ve obviously gone at it a couple times. That’s the beauty of the game; you can battle it out and leave everything on the ice, but then go back and kind of have a good relationship after the game. That’s what the hockey community’s all about.”

Of course, Simmonds is far more crucial to Philadelphia’s chances than Wilson to Washington’s. The 27-year old scored six goals in five April games, memorably propelling the Flyers into the playoffs with two goals in a win over Pittsburgh. He was quiet on Thursday, and Wilson would like him to stay that way.

“I hope I didn’t wake him up there,” Wilson said. “He’s obviously going to be coming out in Game 2 flying like the rest of their team. They’re going to be chomping at the bit to get another crack at us. We’ve just got to be ready for it.”

Whatever you thought of the Wilson hit and subsequent penalty, which led to the fight, the end result was a huge win for Washington. Flyers Coach Dave Hakstol was asked Friday if he was upset at Simmonds for taking Wilson’s bait.

“Anybody that’s been around our hockey team … knows the leadership Simmer has provided for our group and the type of presence that he is,” Hakstol said. “We’ll discuss a couple things amongst ourselves as a team, but Simmer is a very strong, respected leader on this team and that will not ever change.”

As for Wilson, he seemed surprised that his hit on Andrew MacDonald had prompted that response.

Honestly I didn’t think the hit was that bad,” Wilson said. “A lot of the noise was kind of from my body hitting the boards. I tried to work my way around him as much as possible. He didn’t go in very hard. It was a big noise, and obviously Simmonds is an emotional guy and one of their best players. And he came over and the kind of hockey aspect of it took over, and that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Wilson also said that he would like to model his own game after Simmonds. Not a bad plan. Simmonds has 32 goals this season; Wilson has 14 goals in his three-year career.

“I think I can take a huge page out of his textbook,” Wilson said. “He’s probably the best guy in the league in front of the net, and he almost single-handedly got them into the playoffs based on his power and his leadership. And so he’s the X-factor for them.”

Meanwhile, here’s Wilson, talking about a previous run-in with Brayden Schenn, after Schenn’s hit on Mike Richards.

I mean, I kind of looked over and saw that his feet were about 10 feet above the ice,” Wilson said. “So I just went over, I put my hand in his chest and he just went down like a sack of potatoes. There was really nothing there. That’s why the ref didn’t blow the whistle or anything. He’s obviously trying to draw a penalty in that situation.

“You know what, give him credit; he was launching himself into everyone last night,” Wilson said of Schenn. “He’s playing high energy, but obviously you’re supposed to keep your skates on the ice. So that’s the only reason I was a little bit upset, but Richie kind of yelled at me and said ‘You’re all good, I’m all good, let’s just stay away.’ I’ve just got to realize the time of the game. As long as Richie’s all right, then there’s really no need to do anything. Just kind of show your presence and let them know that we’re not happy but skate away.”