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Stanley-Cup-winning Avalanche forward Chris Simon dead at 52

Mar 19, 2024, 3:07 PM | Updated: Mar 20, 2024, 10:34 am

Chris Simon was an original member of the Colorado Avalanche, moving with the team from Canada to Colorado. On Tuesday, the National Hockey League Players Association announced that the 52-year-old has passed away. Simon committed suicide, his family says.

The 15-year NHLer and 20-year pro spent four seasons with the Avalanche franchise and one in Colorado where he was a member of the 1996 Stanley Cup winning team.

“Chris was a great guy, a beloved teammate and an important part of our first championship season,” former team captain and now club president Joe Sakic said in a statement the Avalanche put up on social media. “He was a really good hockey player who could score goals, was a big presence in the dressing room and was the first person to stand up and defend his teammates. Off the ice he was an unbelievable guy and a caring father, son, brother and friend. He will be sorely missed.”

Simon spent his day with the Cup in Wawa, Ontario, where he was born and died.  Simon filled for bankruptcy in 2017, with a doctor claiming in the court case that Simon was dealing with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as a result of his playing days.

Simon, an enforcer, was in more than 100 NHL fights, racked up 1,824 penalty minutes and received two of the longest suspensions handed out in the history of the NHL and six other bans.

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

The controversial power forward was a beloved hockey player in the 1990s. In his NHL career, Simon had 144 goals and 161 assists in 782 games with the Nordiques/Avalanche, Washington Capitals, Chicago Blackhawks, Rangers, Calgary Flames, Islanders and Minnesota Wild. He thrice played in the Stanley Cup Final, tallying three points in the Avs 1996 postseason run.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has disputed the link between CTE and pro hockey. Chris Nilan, who played just a bit earlier than Simon has been vocal about the link and searching for a cure. In the past decade, hockey has seen enforcers Derek Boogaard, Steve Montador and Rick Rypien suffer from CTE and die at young ages.

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Stanley-Cup-winning Avalanche forward Chris Simon dead at 52