Most of the attention has been placed on former Flyers captain Mike Richards’ return to the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night with the Los Angeles Kings.
But there will be another guy who will be on the ice and was a big part of the blockbuster summer trade, Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds.
Acquired from the Kings with Brayden Schenn and a No. 2 pick in 2012, Simmonds will be facing his ex-teammates for the first time.
“It’s my old team and I have a little bit to prove, but I think it’s more that we have to focus on our team game,” Simmonds said after Friday’s practice in Voorhees “It’s not about me. We want to come in and get the two points and that’s all that matters.”
Simmonds, who is off to an impressive start, played his first three years of his career with Los Angeles, and lived with Kings defenseman Drew Doughty for two seasons. He said he “learned how to be defensively responsible from Terry Murray,” the Kings coach and former Flyers coach. “They kind of stress defense first, and that’s kind of the way the team plays.”
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette downplayed the return of Richards.
“I think when players come back to their (former) buildings for the first time, it’s always a little bit different,” Laviolette said. “To be honest with you, we’re focusing more on Los Angeles and their team and what we need to do to make sure we win a game.”
Scott Hartnell, one of Richards’ closest friends, had dinner with the former Flyer on Monday.
“It’s good to see a good buddy that we had a lot of laughs with,” he said. “….I’m sure we’ll have a couple on the ice (Saturday), but when push comes to shove, he’ll be rolling over me to get the puck in the corner and I’ll be doing the same to him.”
Hartnell said it took Richards a while to “wrap his head around” the trade, but that he has accepted it and his mind “is in a good place now.”
“It’s going to be a little weird,” defenseman Kimmo Timonen said of facing Richards. “Obviously, we’re going to talk in the morning, but when the game starts, it’s like anybody else out here. We’re going to play hard. …You can’t give him a free pass.”
Was it tough when Timonen returned to play in Nashville after being dealt to the Flyers?
“It’s not tough. You’re actually excited,” Timonen said. “You want to see how the fans react _ and I’m hoping they give Richie a standing ovation.”
Asked if Richards was his friend until the first hit, Timonen smiled. “Mine or his?” he replied.
Breakaways.Hartnell on Richards, who is now 26: "A 24-year-old multi-millionaire likes to have beers. What a shocker that is.".....Richards said it was “fun coming to the rink again.”……The Flyers will try to go to 4-0 for the eighth time in their history. Their best start was 6-0 in 1986-87.
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Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.
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