Simmonds hopeful NHL can avoid lockout
While plenty of NHL players have already made back-up plans in case of a lockout, Wayne Simmonds has elected to keep a more positive outlook.
For now, anyway.
“Obviously, I’m hoping there’s a season,” said Simmonds, who hasn’t yet looked into any NHL alternatives for the coming year. “I’m sure as it comes closer, I’ll speak to my agent about [other places to play], and see where things go from there.”
Simmonds, who agreed to a six-year extension with the Flyers late Wednesday (see story)
, is currently hard at work training in Toronto. Only three years into his NHL career, the 23-year-old winger hasn’t had experience with a work stoppage yet and isn’t certain about what to expect as the Sept. 15 CBA deadline approaches.
“Honestly, I have no clue,” Simmonds said. “All the players are obviously going to show up if we’re ready to play the season. But by Sept. 15, if a deal’s not reached, I’m not too sure.
“This is my first time going through this, and I’m really not too familiar with the process. But from all the players’ accounts, we want to play. We’re ready to start.”
The Players Association presented its alternative to the owners’ proposed new CBA on Tuesday (see story)
. But unfortunately, the two sides remain far apart. That's bad news to all NHLers, but especially to someone like Simmonds, who had a career year in 2011-12. He scored 28 goals (49 points) and hopes to build on that success next season.
"I think I’m going to continue to progress as a player," he said. "And
I’m going to do everything I can to help the Philadelphia Flyers win."
Simmonds might not have been around for the last lockout, but he’s aware of the wide-ranging effects another one would have both on current players and future players hoping to advance their careers in 2013.
That said, his gut instinct is that it's going to be a little while before the NHLPA and league's owners can come to an agreement on a new CBA.
“Last lockout, there wasn’t a season for a full year, and I think it knocked back a lot of players,” Simmonds said. “Younger guys had to drop down leagues and things of that sort.
“We presented a proposal to the league, and I don’t think the players want [a work stoppage] by any means, but I think it’s going to come closer to Sept. 15 before a decision’s made.”
Certainly, all players have a vested interest in the outcome of this summer's CBA talks. But Simmonds, whose new cap hit ($3.97 million) represents a sizable raise over his current one ($1.75 million), could stand to actually bring home a lot less money if proposed player salary rollbacks take effect. Simmonds has only been eligible for a contract extension since July 1, so it's interesting the Flyers elected to extend him in what amounts to a period of uncertainty in the NHL.
Nevertheless, the timing of Simmonds' deal isn't what matters. Just the deal itself.
"I think [Paul Holmgren] and my agent just started speaking about the contract recently," Simmonds said. "A deal came up where I think it’s smart of me to take it.
"Just to be a part of the Flyers organization for a substantial amount of time, I jumped on it.”E-mail Sarah Baicker at email@example.com