Former NHL winger Chris Simon dies at age 52

Former NHL winger Chris Simon has died at the age of 52. His death was confirmed Tuesday by two of his former teams, the Colorado Avalanche and the New York Islanders.

The rugged forward was known for his physicality in a career that saw him play for seven franchises. A member of the Quebec Nordiques, he was part of the team that relocated to Denver and helped the Avalanche win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history during the 1995-96 season.

“Chris was a great guy, a beloved teammate and important part of our first championship season,” Avalanche president Joe Sakic said in a statement. “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.”

The Islanders posted on social media that Simon “epitomized what it means to be an Islander, someone who wore his heart on his sleeve both on the ice and in the community.”

From the NHL Alumni Association’s social media: “Chris was never afraid to stand up for his teammates, and played a key role in the dressing room. He was a beloved friend, father, brother, and son.”

The NHL called Simon a “fierce competitor and teammate” and expressed condolences in a statement Tuesday.

Simon spent the bulk of his career with the Washington Capitals and scored a career-high 29 goals and 49 points during the 1999-2000 season. He would also play for the Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, Calgary Flames, Islanders and Minnesota Wild over his career.

“Chris Simon was most definitely an intimidating guy on the ice,” former teammate Mike Commodore posted on social media. “We spent a lot of time together during Flames ’04 run since we were both living in the hotel. … He couldn’t have been nicer to me. RIP Chris. You will be missed.”

Simon last played in the NHL in the 2007-08 season before spending the next five seasons playing in the KHL in Russia, where he became a two-time All-Star.

Simon finished his NHL career with 1,824 penalty minutes and 305 points in 864 games.

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