Flyers' Simmonds practices; return date uncertain

Flyers' Simmonds practices; return date uncertain

February 6, 2013, 2:15 pm
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VOORHEES, N.J. -- Wayne Simmonds, recovering from a concussion, was back on the ice Wednesday at Skate Zone, but wearing the “no contact” yellow jersey.
 
Since this is the first time the lanky winger has skated since taking an elbow to the face from Washington’s John Erskine last Friday, it remains to be seen whether Simmonds will play Thursday against Florida without having at least one full contact practice.
 
Does he need a contact practice?
 
“I don’t know,” Simmonds replied. “I guess it’s for the medical staff to decide. If I still have to practice a few more days, I have no problem with that. It’s a touchy thing. You don’t want to push it.”
 
Coach Peter Laviolette would not comment on Simmonds’ status.
 
“It’s just a skatearound for 25 minutes out there, so it’s tough to get a beat on that,” Laviolette said, adding that “sometimes” players need a contact practice to return.
 
Simmonds suspects he has been concussed before, but this was his first official diagnosis, he said.
 
“I take a lot of punches,” he said. “I get hit in the head a lot.”
 
The NHL protocol for a first concussion during a season is seven days. That would be the first period of the Panthers game.
 
“I felt pretty good; everything went well, we’ll see what happens,” Simmonds said, adding he has no concussion symptoms. “I feel good today. I really don’t know what will happen.”
 
It’s significant to note that he has been headache free the entire time, even though he struck his head on the ice.
 
Erskine received a three-game suspension, but to his credit, texted Simmonds to apologize for the hit.
 
Simmonds said on Saturday that he felt Erskine stuck his elbow up in reaction to seeing that he was going to get around the Caps’ defenseman for a 3-on-1 break up the ice.
 
“He apologized for what happened and I’m happy he did that,” Simmonds said. “I don’t think he intended to hurt me. I’ve watched him play. He’s a big, strong, stay-at-home D-man and he plays physical and I’ve never seen him intentionally try to hurt someone.
 
“He knew he had gotten caught and we were on a 3-on-1 the other way. Sometimes, things happen in hockey. It’s a fast game.”
 
Erskine was not penalized on the play. Simmonds said, at the very least, it was worthy of a minor.
 
And obviously, given the suspension, the NHL concurred.
 
Loose pucks
Tommy Sestito had two goals on just two shots against Tampa Bay. “I lead the league in shooting percentage and scoring percentage – 100 percent,” Sestito kidded. ... Sad to say, something is amiss when Sestito catapults to tied for second in scoring on the club with two goals. ... Claude Giroux leads the NHL in faceoff percentage among those who've taken more than 230 draws at 55.4 percent. He’s taken more draws than anyone – 242. ... Zac Rinaldo says “nothing has changed” in his approach to the game this season. His first period fight with B.J. Crombeen electrified the crowd and changed the complexion of the game. “I don’t want to get too cocky,” he said. “You get punched, you get punched. It’s hockey. That’s the way it happens. I’m not going to get too up and say I’ll win every fight because I don’t.”

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