VANCOUVER – Toronto Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds was expecting to practice this past Wednesday when his wife Crystal woke up him at 5 am.
“She said it was go time,” Simmonds recalled. “We got to the hospital around 7:30 and then you know after that it was me just supporting mom just waiting for our angel to come.”
The bruising forward returned to the club on Friday following the birth of his second daughter Kapri.
Despite missing a pair of practices and a game on Wednesday against the Calgary Flames, Simmonds was the only player to take the ice for a morning skate ahead of their 4 p.m. local start against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.
“I’m kind of riding a high right now,” Simmonds said. “I look forward to playing this game for sure.”
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Simmonds’ absence this week was missed for a couple of reasons. With limited salary cap space, the Leafs elected to go with 11 forwards and seven defencemen, instead of the traditional 12 forwards and six defencemen.
The other factor was Simmonds wasn’t around to help stick up for forward Ondrej Kase, who was on the receiving end of a hit that knocked the skater out of the game.
“We’re close-knit team here and we stick up for one another,” Simmonds said. “I was watching that game in Calgary and I thought Mo (Morgan Rielly) did a great job going after Zadorov after he hit Kase so I was actually extremely proud of that.”
Simmonds has four goals and 13 points in 42 games this season.