It's a great day for hockey in Los Angeles, as sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s are greeting the NHL All-Stars on their short journey from the league hotels to Staples Center. Players are gathering for some league photos and a meeting with the hockey operations staff before a team photo and warmups right around 3pm Eastern.
The day started much earlier for some behind-the-scenes Flyers representatives. Flyers equipment managers Derek Settlemyre, Harry Bricker and Mike "Huggy" Craytor are in LA this weekend to work the Eastern Conference locker room. It's a real treat and a memorable experience for some of the hardest-working people in the business.
Today's games get underway at 3:30 Eastern. The Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions face off in the second game of the afternoon
GAME 1: Metropolitan Division 10, Atlantic Division 6
The Metropolitan Division team has advanced to the final at the Honda NHL All-Star Game with a 10-6 win over the Atlantic Division.
Wayne Simmonds got the game going with the Metro's first two goals, roofing a puck over Carey Price after a partial breakaway and later beating the Montreal netminder again from the bottom of the right circle.
John Tavares and Cam Atkinson also scored two apiece for the Metro.
The championship game vs the Pacific Division gets underway shortly.
GAME 2: Metropolitan Division WIN, Wayne Simmonds named MVP
What was already a dream weekend for Wayne Simmonds ended up having a fairy-tale ending.
Simmonds scored the game-winning goal with 4:48 remaining to give the Metropolitan Division a 4-3 win over the Pacific Division, and in doing so became the first Flyer to win NHL All-Star MVP honors since Reggie Leach did it in 1980.
Simmonds scored his goal five seconds after Cam Atkinson of Columbus had tied the game. Simmonds and Atkinson both had three goals over the course of the two games.
With the MVP honors come a 2017 Honda Ridgeline truck. But even more meaningful for Simmonds was receiving the honors where his NHL career started during the 2008-09 season. Simmonds was cheered throughout the weekend by the hometown Kings fans, and definitely appreciated the sentiments.
"It meant a lot," Simmonds said. "I haven't been here for six years. I got traded when I was still 22 years old, when I got traded. I'm 28 now. I've been in Philadelphia for the last six years. When you leave a place, you don't expect to come back and get all the cheers as I did today, but I must have did something right when I was here. I know I had a lot of die-hard fans here, and I really appreciate those people. I just appreciate everything. It made me feel good today."
Simmonds and his Metropolitan Division teammates will split a $1 million dollar prize for the win.
Video: Hear from NHL All-Star MVP Wayne Simmonds
Video: MET@PAC: Simmonds on Gretzky's coaching, return to LA