VOORHEES, N.J. -- All things considered, Wayne Simmonds says his European adventure wasnt all that bad.
Definitely not, said the Flyers forward, who finally joined teammates on the ice Friday at Skate Zone.
It was an experience. I had never played hockey in Europe before, except at World Juniors. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. ... I enjoyed my time over there. ...
We got a CBA in place for the next 10 years so, hopefully, I wont have to go back.
Simmonds and best friend Chris Stewart of the St. Louis Blues played on two clubs in Europe: Eispiraten Crimmitschau, GmbH, a tier II club in the Bundesleague, then a more competitive tier I club, Liberer in the Czech Extraliga.
Everyone remembers the Czech experience. It was there that Simmonds again was subjected to racial taunts during a game in Chomutov, a few hours from Liberec.
Despite that sad affair, Simmonds said it didnt detract from his overall experience of playing in Europe or experiencing another culture.
I enjoyed myself in Germany and the Czech Republic and would not trade it in, Simmonds said. I actually went over there with my buddy, Chris Stewart, for the purpose of being comfortable.
Us two guys grew up together. We went over there together to make it easier on each other. I think it worked. Obviously, when you see a familiar face that you are used to seeing everyday during the summer, it makes the adjustment a little bit easier.
Simmonds disputed a club website report that his delay in arriving early for Sundays start of training camp was a result of his misplacing his visa.
No, I had to close up shop, he said. Im a homeowner now (in Pickering, Ont.) and had to shut my house down. It took a couple extra days.
I wanted to get in here on Tuesday. But there were a couple of extra things I had to do for my house.
If there is one common thread to every Flyer who has filed into camp this week, its that each of them remarked at how nice it was to rejoin teammates.
Almost half the roster went to Europe during the lockout. Some players were sent to the AHL. A few worked out here in groups that grew smaller as the lockout wore on. Others worked out alone outside the area.
Boredom quickly set in for those who werent part of some kind of team atmosphere.
Back home during the lockout, youre skating with anywhere from six to 15 different guys a day, Simmonds said, referring to when he left Europe early.
And now its nice to get back into the team atmosphere, where you are comfortable. Personally, I cant wait.
Simmonds had a banner year for the Flyers last season with career-highs in goals (28) and points (49).
His European experience saw him collect eight goals and 20 points for two teams in 15 games.
Its a different game completely, Simmonds said. Hockey over there, I thought, was completely different. More east-west and not north-south.
For me, it took a little bit of adjusting to get used to. I tried not to change my game too much because I knew wed be playing this year.
Although quite a few NHLers returned from Europe nursing injuries, the game there is far less physical. Simmonds relishes the physical style, with a few fights thrown in as well.
I feel like over there, there is not that much fighting, he said. Guys take more liberties. If you dont stand your ground, there are more guys to take cheap shots at you.
He said his first week there, guys were latching onto his jersey and obstructing everywhere on the ice.
You've got to stand up for yourself and make a statement early on, Simmonds said. They pretty much left me alone after that.
Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier finally joined other teammates on the ice for a players-only scrimmage with goalies Ilya Bryzgalov and Michael Leighton. ... That scrimmage also included Zac Rinaldo and Eric Wellwood. ... Claude Giroux again did not skate. General manager Paul Holmgren said he is healthy. Recall, Giroux had a neck issue in late November after an injury in Germany that forced him to return from Europe to receive treatment by noted neurologist Ted Carrick in Marietta, Georgia. ... There will be no Flyers on the ice Saturday. Camp tentatively opens Sunday at 11 a.m. The start could be pushed back 30 minutes or more because of player physicals. Holmgren said many Flyers have voluntarily agreed to early physicals prior to CBA ratification to speed up the opening of camp on Sunday. ... The Flyers will play 48 games in 99 days. Their schedule, however, doesnt go through the full month of April. ... A league source confirmed a Delco Daily Times story that the Flyers have expressed interest in UFA defenseman Kurtis Foster. The Flyers have serious issues on the blue line, especially now that Andrej Meszaros apparently won't be fully ready to go at season's start.