Toronto Maple Leafs: Wayne Simmonds fight a throwback to the good old days

Wayne Simmonds #24 of the Toronto Maple Leafs.(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Wayne Simmonds #24 of the Toronto Maple Leafs.(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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Wayne Simmonds sure knows how to drop them.

We were treated to a true throwback on Thursday when Toronto Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds engaged in a true fight for the ages with Vancouver Canucks defenseman Jordie Benn, a tilt that had hockey Twitter buzzing.

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Now, we’ll preface this by saying that talking about, and even endorsing, fighting in hockey these days is a sensitive subject, but for hockey purists like myself, it is still very much part of the game and it is an entertaining part of the game when done right. Plus, so many of us fell in love with that aspect of the game and, personally, it would be bad if it were to ever be truly eradicated.

Anyway, rant over and back to Thursday night when we saw something that we don’t usually see in the modern-day NHL where speed and skill rules the day – a true heavyweight fight that was truly one of the best highlights from what was a 7-3 game. That’s how good it was.

Wayne Simmonds (24)
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds (24). Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Wayne Simmonds drops the gloves and provides a fight for the ages

So, let us set the scene for you. After Wayne Simmonds launched a big hit on stud defenseman Quinn Hughes against the boards, Canucks veteran Jordie Benn decided something had to be done and quickly challenged Simmonds to drop the gloves and settle things the old fashioned way.

Well, Benn may have regretted that decision and quickly given what transpired. After both players stared off at each other and bided their time before properly engaging, Simmonds made his move and proceeded to land blow after blow after blow, raining a flurry of punches down on Benn in what an absolute relentless onslaught.

Simmonds absolutely pummelled Benn, showing off his long reach that makes him so dangerous, and hardly giving his opponent a chance to respond and get a punch in. Granted, Simmonds did eventually slow down before the fight was eventually stopped, but it was perfect proof as to why the power forward is one of the best fighters in the game.

He absolutely gave it to Benn who hung on in there and showed a lot of character, but Simmonds is one of the true heavyweights in the game when it comes to the old art of fighting. His long reach and quick hands makes for a lethal combination and there is no beating Simmonds when he fights like that.

That was one of the reasons the Toronto Maple Leafs signed Wayne Simmonds to a one-year, $1,500,000 contract in the offseason. Boasting plenty of star power and an abundance of skill, they lacked toughness, grit and snarl and Simmonds provides all of that by the bucketload. He’s also not afraid to drop the gloves to either stick up for his teammate or give his team a jolt of energy, and that was evident on Thursday.

Simmonds isn’t a one-trick pony, of course. Granted, he did get off to a slow start with the Maple Leafs having failed to record a point in his first six games, but he scored three goals in four games and earned a promotion to Toronto’s star-studded second-line with John Tavares and William Nylander. Simmonds has also been a big weapon on the top power play unit and he’s been a real consistent force for the Leafs over the last week or so.

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However, there is no denying that one of Wayne Simmonds’ biggest strengths is his considerable toughness, and we saw that in all of its glory on Thursday. Yes, we are praising fighting but, again, there is still a place for it in the modern-day NHL and the bout between Simmonds and Jordie Benn was a true throwback to how it used to be. It was spectacular to watch and it got people talking about the NHL and hockey in general, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Overall, there’s few tougher than Wayne Simmonds and he reminded us on Thursday that he can truly throw them down with the best of them. And it was a lot of fun to watch.