‘A heart of gold’: Former Calgary Flames enforcer Chris Simon dies at 52

Chris Simon, once one of hockey’s most feared enforcers, has died.

He was 52 years old.

The NHL Players Association confirmed the news through Simon’s family that he died Monday night. No cause of death was provided.

The 6-foot-3, 232-pound forward from Wawa, Ontario, accumulated 1,824 penalty minutes in 782 games with the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche, Washington Capitals, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, Calgary Flames, New York Islanders and Minnesota Wild.

The NHLPA said in an email Tuesday confirming Simon’s death that “his children and family are mourning the sudden loss of their father, son, brother, friend and teammate.”

Ted Nolan, who coached and mentored Simon at Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League. Marie Greyhounds, called it a “very tough day.”

“If I were starting a team, Chris would be my first choice,” Nolan, who also coached Simon in the NHL with the Islanders, said in a text message.

“Size, skill, talent and above all, a heart of gold.”

Simon was not without controversy either.

The NHL suspended him eight times during his career for a total of 65 games. Simon received a 25-game suspension while he was with the Islanders for a cross-check to the face of Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg in March 2007.

He was then forced to miss 30 games for stomping on the leg of Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jarkko Ruutu in December of the same year.

Simon, who was drafted in the second round by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1990 and sent to Quebec as part of the Eric Lindros trade, won the Stanley Cup with Colorado in 1996 before reaching the finals with Washington in 1998 and Calgary in 2004.

Known for his fists in an era when staged fights and intimidation were a big part of NHL life, he could also put the puck in the net.

Simon, of Ojibwa descent and proud of his indigenous roots, recorded 144 goals, including a career-high 29 with Washington in 1999-00, along with 161 assists for 305 points.

He had 10 goals, 17 points and 191 penalty minutes in 75 playoff games.

Simon played parts of five seasons in the Russia-based Continental Hockey League after his last NHL stop with Minnesota in 2007-08.

Former teammates took to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, as news of his death spread Tuesday.

“Intimidating guy on the ice… great player too,” posted Mike Commodore, who played with Simon in Calgary. “You couldn’t have been nicer to me. RIP Chris. You will be missed.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 19, 2024.

Leave a Comment