Los Angeles

Former L.A. King, Wayne Simmonds, Wins NHL All Star Game for Metro Division

Former Los Angeles Kings forward Wayne Simmonds scored the game-winning goal for fill-in coach Wayne Gretzky as the Metropolitan All-Stars defeated the Pacific Division, 4-3, on Sunday in the 2017 NHL All Star Game at Staples Center.

The NHL All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles revolved around the Great One.

So it was only fitting that another former L.A. King named Wayne played the role of hero. 

Former Los Angeles Kings forward Wayne Simmonds scored the game-winning goal in the Championship Game and the Metropolitan Division All Stars, led by replacement head coach Wayne Gretzky, defeated the Pacific Division All Stars, 4-3, in the 2017 NHL All-Star Game on Sunday at Staples Center. 

The 3-on-3 tournament style format saw the Pacific Division stars led by hometown favorites Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty defeat the Central Division All-Stars by a touchdown, 10-3, in the first game of the day.

After a brief reprieve, the Metropolitan Stars defeated the Atlantic Division stars, 10-6, in the second game, to set up the Championship final with the Pacific Division.

"They're the hottest division in the league right now," said Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson who represented the Atlantic Division, the team that won Saturday's NHL Skills competition and therefore choose to play the Metropolitan Division in the first game on Sunday. "You're going to have to ask Carey [Price] he's our team captain. He made a hard decision, and there wasn't much we could do about it.

The back-and-forth battle that was the Championship game appeared to tilt towards the Pacific Division when Ryan Kesler scored to give the hometown team the 4-2 lead. However, Gretzky challenged the goal, and after a reply review, the goal was disallowed for an offside penalty.  

"I might have been a millimeter offside," said Edmonton Oilers young sensation Connor McDavid. "So it was a good coaches' challenge by Gretzky, I guess."

The challenge by Great One in the glorified exhibition match turned out to be the difference as Columbus Blue Jackets' forward Cam Atkinson scored minutes later to tie the game, and Simmonds found the back of the net immediately after for the go-ahead score.

Simmonds, appearing in his first All-Star game of his career was named the MVP after the game, as he scored a team-high three goals in the two games, spoiling the Hollywood ending for the pro Pacific Division crowd.

"I didn't know he won MVP," said former teammate Drew Doughty after the game. "We're going to Philly next week, and dinner will definitely be on him."

The former King played three seasons with Los Angeles before he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011. Simmonds was a fan favorite in L.A. and the Staples Center crowed showed their support for one of their own as they cheered Simmonds loudly throughout the game.

"It's all surreal right now," Simmonds said of being named the MVP in his return to L.A. "I have family members here and my fiancé is from here so I'm lucky to enjoy this with them. It's been an awesome weekend for me."

The same could not be said for many of those talented stars that play for the Kings rivals as fans in attendance booed a trio Chicago Blackhawks All-Stars, as well as members of the San Jose Sharks.

Despite the games played on the ice, the highlight of the day came before the game when over half of the players named in Friday's NHL 100 ceremony took to the ice and stood in a line as they shook hands with the current NHL All-Stars. After the introductions, the bridge between past and present united when the legends met with the current stars for the ceremonial puck drop.

"That was so cool," added McDavid. "To have the 100 greatest players of all-time here was so much fun to be around and be a part of it. There were so many amazing players down that line."

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