For Wayne Simmonds, the tough as nails winger and second-round pick of the Kings this past summer, the World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic was a welcomed trip abroad. It was the first time Simmonds was given the opportunity to don the red and white Canadian colors in international play.
Simmonds helped Canada edge out Sweden in overtime to win their fourth straight gold medal. Canada previously lost to Sweden in the preliminary round to break Canada’s streak of 20 consecutive wins in the tournament. Besides his equipment, Simmonds brought a lot to Canada’s prevailing gold medal run.
|MORE ON SIMMONDS |
|Simmonds finished the tournament with nine shots on goal in seven games. |
Kings Vision of WJC 700K
SIMMONDS INKED: The Kings have agreed to terms on a three-year entry-level contract with forward Wayne Simmonds, the club’s second-round selection (61st overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
Simmonds OHL Stats
“I just tried to bring as much intensity as I could to the games, I always tried to play physical and finish my body checks,” Simmonds said from back home in Sault Ste. Marie.
It is that intensity that has set Simmonds apart from the rest. Simmonds isn’t a big scorer – as a rookie with the Owen Sound Attack last season, Simmonds put up 49 points in 66 games.
This season, he has found the net a little easier. He began the season with Owen Sound again, but was transferred to Sault Ste. Marie shortly before the World Juniors tournament. In a combined 31 games, Simmonds has notched 41 points. It just so happens that Simmonds’ new coach in Sault St. Marie is Craig Hartsburg – the head coach of Team Canada for the tournament.
“It was pretty cool. I had only played in three games before being traded, but I have learned a lot more about him through the tournament,” Simmonds said. “It’s pretty cool to come back here and have him as my coach."
Winning the World Juniors has always been a goal of Simmonds. It is a big tradition in Canada to spend the holiday season parked in front of the television watching hockey’s futures compete for their countries.
“It was unreal, almost indescribable. When I saw that goal go in, I just jumped off the bench and went nuts. It was a feeling of pure joy. A real dream come true,” Simmonds said of winning the gold. “Ever since you are little, you watch the tournament every year, so it was pretty special to be a part of it myself.”
While at the tournament, Simmonds definitely noticed a difference in styles of play between the OHL and international competition. He is hoping to learn from his experiences and help gather them into his arsenal for play with the Greyhounds.
“It’s different because Europeans hold on to the puck a lot more. They don’t really play the dump and chase style. The rink is a little bit smaller back in the OHL, so I’ll be used to skating a little bit more.”
Coming back, Simmonds knows that there is a lot he needs to work on in order to someday get to the Kings lineup.
“I’ve got to get bigger, keep working out,” the 6-2, 162-pound forward said. “You can always work on your skating – it’s true that your skating is never good enough.”
He is excited to be a part of the Kings core group of prospects. Simmonds called LA a “great city” and said that the Kings are a “first class organization.” If Simmonds continues to progress as rapidly as he has in the past two seasons, Simmonds will someday soon fulfill another childhood dream – this time it will be the purple, white and black of the Kings sweater that he will be pulling over his head.