The winner is chosen by the Flyers Fan Club, and, considering the relationship the Flyers have with their fans, winning the Hart Award is a big deal.
Wayne Simmonds could not have known how he would be accepted in Philadelphia. He was part of a shocking trade last June that sent captain Mike Richards, a former Hart Award winner, to the Los Angeles Kings.
You can't really know how fans will react to you when you arrive under those circumstances. But the one thing the organization insisted on from the moment the trade went through was that Flyers fans would end up loving Simmonds because he was their kind of player.
He was a guy with a strong work ethic who wasn't afraid to go to all of the hard areas and mix things up. Simmonds wasn't a guy who would cheat the fans with a low work rate.
In his introductory news conference, Simmonds told Flyers fans he was born to wear the orange and black.
On Thursday night before the Flyers played their final regular-season home game at the Wells Fargo Center, fans told Simmonds he truly was, as he was announced as the winner of the 2011-12 Hart Award.
"I think it's pretty cool," Simmonds said. "It's an honor to go out every night and try to put it all out on the line.
"The fans appreciate that, so this is a huge honor for me."
If you think about it, how could Philly not like a blue-collar hockey player such as Simmonds? This is a guy who recorded a "Gordie Howe hat trick" - a goal, an assist and a fight - against the New York Rangers on Feb. 11.
On March 30 against Ottawa, Simmonds was credited with a goal after a shot by Brayden Schenn, who also came over in the Richards deal, deflected off his forehead and into the net.
He still has stitches across his upper face and an eye scar for that tally.
"Personally, I prefer the Gordie Howe hat trick," Simmonds said, "but some people might like the goal off of my face."
But Simmonds didn't win Flyers fans over just with his grit. That, in itself, would not make them forget a popular, young captain who had been the face of the franchise.
Human nature says that some might have held it against Simmonds just because he was one of the guys acquired for Richards.
"I had no clue [how fans would receive him]," Simmonds said. "I just wanted to come to Philadelphia and play my game. I didn't want to try to do anything extra.
"I'm not the same player as [Richards]. I think I bring some different elements to the game. I just wanted to play the way I knew how to play, and, hopefully, the fans would receive me well, and they did."
It's easy for Flyers fans to like a guy who plays physical, works hard and sticks up for his teammates. They appreciate 114 penalty minutes.
"I'm intense," Simmonds said. "If something is going on with one of my teammates, I'm going to be one of the first guys to jump in."
Liking Simmonds is easier as he's come through with a career-high 28 goals - putting him in a tie with Claude Giroux for second on the team - plus 21 assists. His production was one of the factors that helped ease concerns about the loss of scoring when Richards and Jeff Carter were traded.
"Obviously this is a blue-collar town, where people respect hard work," Simmonds said. "I think hard work is something I bring to the table.
"All I do is go on the ice, play as hard as I can, and see where it goes."
That's what "Hart" means to Flyers fans.
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