Wayne Simmonds insists the racist chants directed his way while playing in the Czech Extraliga weren’t the reason he left his team.
“It wasn’t me itching to come back,” Simmonds told Philly.com about severing ties with the Liberec White Tigers. “I had to come home.
“I had stuff I had to deal with.”
When news of his departure broke, the official line was that Simmonds left Liberec for family reasons. The Flyers winger didn’t elaborate on what those issues were, but did confirm everything at home is now “fine.”
Simmonds left in mid-November, on the same day eight Chomutov fans were arrested for yelling “Opice” — “monkey” in English — during a game on Oct. 31.
Simmonds’ agent, Eustace King, told USA Today that while the taunts weren’t the sole reason for Simmonds leaving the Czech Republic, they did play a part.
“I don’t want to say it didn’t have anything to do [with the racial taunts],” King explained. “But it was a bunch of things that added up.”
Here’s more on that situation, from Yahoo!’s Nick Cotsonika:
The Czechs were embarrassed. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say they had the absolute best intentions. As defenseman Ladislav Smid said then, they didn’t want to make Simmonds feel uncomfortable. But their silence might have made him feel more uncomfortable.
Simmonds later told Smid he should have told him.
The 24-year-old said his plan is to settle in his native Toronto and skate with a group of players in the area.
He isn’t ruling out a return to Europe, however.