, , , , ,

Flyers' Wayne Simmonds.

Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds.

Yo, Philadelphia, if you see Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds wearing a Toronto Blue Jays baseball cap, cut him some slack.

Sure, that blue lid with the bird head and red maple leaf on it brings back bad flashbacks of Toronto’s Joe Carter smashing a Mitch Williams fastball into SkyDome’s left field bullpen for a ninth-inning, walk-off three-run homer in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series and announcer Tom Cheek screaming “Touch ’em all Joe” as your Philadelphia Phillies dejectedly trudge off the field.

But for Simmonds, the Blue Jays brim brings back a different memory – of his Nana, grandmother Catherine Mercury. He tells a touching first-person story on SI.com as part of the National Hockey League’s Hockey Fights Cancer initiative.

Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds fights cancer for his late grandmother.

Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds fights cancer for his late grandmother.

Simmonds is in a 30-second television ad for the campaign that features NHL stars like the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby, T.J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche’s Gabriel Landeskog, and Flyers’ captain Claude Giroux.

Simmonds’ involvement in the campaign reflects his stature as one of the NHL’s rising stars, a trajectory that began last season when he led the Flyers with 29 goals. Kick in 31 assists, and Simmonds finished third on the team in scoring in 2013-14 with 60 points. He’s scored seven goals and five assists for 12 points in 16 games so far in the 2014-15 season.

Since coming to the Flyers in a 2011 trade from the Los Angeles Kings, Simmonds has become a fan favorite for his scoring and physical play. Nothing says love more in Philadelphia than notching two Gordie Howe hat tricks – a goal, an assist, and a fight – in one season, which Simmonds accomplished in 2013.

But for Simmonds, nothing says love more than wearing a Toronto Blue Jays baseball cap.