Humble Simmonds a hard-working King

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:05 PM ET

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. Taking a kid from a humble background in Scarborough and dropping him in the middle of La-la Land could have been a nasty case of culture shock.

But Wayne Simmonds looks very much at home in his third season, helping a Kings franchise that could be a dominant power in the Western Conference before long.

Not even the top scorers Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams and Dustin Brown are household names, and while defencemen Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson have made headlines, it was as much to do with the Olympics for the former and a seven-year, $30.5-million US contract extension for the latter. The Kings, in general, are still a team of mystery, at least to Eastern fans.

But its the support players such as Simmonds who have kept them above water in the ultra-competitive West.

We definitely dont get the media attention of Toronto and Montreal, Simmonds said Sunday. But you still come to the rink and work hard every day. Not many people know who we are, but were trying to make a name for ourselves.

The right winger has 15 points, but his hits, takeaways and 54 penalty minutes tell a better story.

Before I got here, coach Terry Murray said, I heard stories about him sleeping in the car and in the players lounge and doing whatever it takes to make it in the NHL. Thats the great Canadian tradition, isnt it?

He kind of popped on the scene and was a surprise to all of us at training camp in my first year. Were looking at all the young pillars very closely, but he really grabbed our attention with grit and fighting.

Simmonds hasnt had time to reflect much on the road from the Malvern area of Scarborough, moving at age 6 to Port Union and Lawrence, which, fortunately, was a slap shot from West Hill Arena.

One of my friends had an outdoor rink, too, and we went there every day after school, Simmonds said. I started playing rep hockey at West Hill and things just went from there.

Chosen 61st overall from the Soo Greyhounds after just two years in the OHL, Simmonds still cant believe where he is.

My family, we dont really come from money, he said. I remember getting my first pay cheque and I was pretty excited, the most money Id ever seen. I just bought a new house in Scarborough and my Mom and my little brother live there.

L.A. is definitely not what Im used to. Id see Lake Ontario. But the waters not as nice to swim in and there are rocks in the sand. To come out here and have a nice beach to go and lay out and enjoy the weather is great, but its also a good hockey environment.


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