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Pro Athlete Confirmed Dead At 52

Chris Simon, a former enforcer in the National Hockey League who played for multiple teams, passed away on Monday.

A spokesperson for the NHL Players’ Association confirmed that Simon, who was 52 years old, died Monday.

Paul Theofanous, who was Simon’s agent, didn’t provide any additional information about Simon’s death, according to the Players’ Association’s representative. The Ontario Provincial Police also wouldn’t comment on the circumstances revolving his death to The Associated Press, and no other cause of death has been disclosed.

The next day, Simon’ family released a statement that confirmed that Simon died by suicide.

The statement, which was provided by Theofanous on behalf of the family, said: “The family strongly believes and witnessed firsthand, that Chris struggled immensely from CTE which unfortunately resulted in his death. We are grieving with the loss of our son, brother, 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.”

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, better known as CTE, is a degenerative brain disease. Unfortunately, there’s no way to diagnose CTE while a person is still living.

That being said, doctors are able to identify potential cases of CTE based on a patient’s symptoms and other neurological exams.

Simon was a player who was known for being very physical on the ice, which likely resulted in him getting CTE over his long career. He played for seven different franchises throughout his career.

Joe Sakic, who is the president of the Colorado Avalanche — with whom Simon won a Stanley Cup — released a statement this week that said: "Chris was a great guy, a beloved teammate and important part of our first championship season. 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 played most of his career for the Washington Capitals, scoring 29 goals — a career high — during the 1999-2000 season. He also played for the Avalanche, Calgary Flames, New York Islanders, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks.

He last played professional hockey in the NHL during the 2007-2008 season, then played another five seasons for the KHL, a professional league in Russia.

Simon is of Ojibwa descent and was considered by many to be a role model for First Nation hockey players throughout Canada.

In 864 career games in the NHL, he recorded 305 total points and 1,824 penalty minutes.

Larry Kelly, one of Simon’s former agents, described him as respectful and kind and was very appreciative of receiving advice. He said:

“For a big tough player, he was also a very kind, caring individual who was always respectful and grateful for advice.”

Original article published on March 2024


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