Wayne Simmonds

Simmonds says racial slurs not why he left Czech team


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.

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two:

Add Lecavalier to list of expensive Flyers healthy scratches

Vincent Lecavalier

Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?

While lineups are obviously subject to change, CSNPhilly.com notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.

Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.

That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”

The CSNPhilly.com quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.

Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.

It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.