Former Rangers enforcer Chris Simon dies by suicide at 52

NHL: USA TODAY Sports-Archive
Lou Capozzola-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Simon, who played 15 NHL seasons, including one with the New York Rangers, has died at the age of 52. His family released a statement that said Simon died by suicide.

“The family strongly believes and witnessed firsthand, that Chris struggled immensely from CTE which unfortunately resulted in his death,” the family statement, provided by Simon’s former agent, Paul Theofanous, read.

“We are grieving with the loss of our son, brother, father, partner, teammate and friend. The entire Wawa community is sharing in our grief. We will not be releasing any further details at this time and ask for privacy during this very difficult time. We appreciate everyone who shares in our tragic loss.”

CTE stands for the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Simon engaged in 101 fights and accumulated 1,824 penalty minutes in 782 NHL games. But the rugged forward was a capable player, as well. He scored 29 goals with the Washington Capitals in 1999-2000 and 16 in 1995-96, when he helped the Colorado Avalanche win the Stanley Cup.

He had 305 points (144 goals, 161 assists) in the NHL and 10 goals in 75 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

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Chris Simon had mixed relationship with New York Rangers

NHL: USA TODAY Sports-Archive
Lou Capozzola-USA TODAY NETWORK Credit: Lou Capozzola-USA TODAY Sports

Simon had a mixed relationship with the Rangers. After spending seven seasons as a thorn in their side when he played for the Capitals, Simon joined the Rangers for the 2003-04 season. He won over the Garden Faithful with a team-leading 225 penalty minutes, second most in his career. And he also was tied for fourth on the Blueshirts with 14 goals.

That season was New York’s seventh straight missing the playoffs. But it was a tough team to play against, led by Simon, Matthew Barnaby and Dale Purinton.

After the NHL lockout the following season, Simon played two seasons with the Calgary Flames before landing with the Islanders. And it was with their arch rival that Simon is likely most remembered by Rangers fans.

On March 8, 2007 during the Rangers’ 2-1 win against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum, Simon chopped his former Blueshirts teammate Ryan Hollweg in the face with his stick after taking a hit that knocked him face-first into the boards. Simon received a match penalty for intent to injure and was suspended the rest of the season and into the next, for a total of 25 games.

The incident made Simon a villain at Madison Square Garden. Fortunately, Hollweg was not seriously injured, though his chin was cut by the stick.

Simon was raised in Wawa, Ontario, and was a proud member of the Michipicoten First Nation.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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