Wayne Simmonds has been with the Flyers since 2011, a career in orange and black that spans three coaches and numerous systems.

As training camp winds down, he isn’t spending his time studying a playbook. So much of his time is spent carefully choosing his words on what has become the most divisive topic in the United States and beyond.

Simmonds is one of 27 black players who suited up in the NHL last season. As the news cycle is dominated by how many athletes kneel or sit during the “Star-Spangled Banner,” Simmonds wants to bring the conversation back to why so many are taking a knee to begin with.

“It’s extremely hard to talk about because politics come into play now,” Simmonds, an alternate captain of the Flyers and the NHL’s reigning All-Star Game MVP, told the Courier-Post. “It’s crazy to me. I’m black and I grew up in Canada. I’ve experienced a lot of racism in my lifetime, especially playing hockey. I’ve had numerous amounts of things happen to me when I was a child through being an adult.

“Obviously this touches home for me. If I play another six, seven, eight, nine, 10 years in the NHL, which I plan to do, I’m gonna be raising my kids in this country. It’s a scary thought to think that because my child is black, they could be walking down the street and they’ll be harassed or killed or something just for being black. That’s an extremely scary thought.”

The problem of racism for Simmonds, like so many others, isn’t limited to America.

It was in London, Ontario, a two-and-a-half-hour car ride from Simmonds’ hometown of Scarborough, that a fan threw a banana on the ice as Simmonds took his turn in a shootout in a 2011 preseason game.

It was in the Czech Republic during the lockout in 2012 that fans in the town of Chomutov chanted “opice,” which in English translates to “monkey” at Simmonds.

And that’s just since he joined the Flyers.

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