Highlighting Key Colorado Avalanche Players from the Past: Chris Simon

Colorado Avalanche v Toronto Maple Leafs
Colorado Avalanche v Toronto Maple Leafs / Graig Abel/GettyImages

*This continues a series that will highlight certain impact players from each of the past Colorado Avalanche Stanley Cup winning teams. This weekly series will dive into both stars and lesser name players, and should reprise some of the glory of past champions*

Highlighting Avalanche players of the past has been on hiatus for a period, but today the series makes its return, although with quite a bit of contrition. With news made official by the Avalanche organization, member of the 1996 Stanley Cup team Chris Simon passed away today at age 52, far too young.

Simon is likely most remembered for times when his “wires crossed” and he made a poor decision on the ice. Those are more notable moments from his career, but he was by all accounts a great teammate and even better person and we focus on that as we remember him. Anyone who answers the bell to stick up for teammates has some integrity in my book, and Simon was one of the few in the mid-nineties who was able to balance tenacity with a bit of offensive touch.

The 6’4, 233-pound Wawa, Ontario native, was initially traded to the Quebec Nordiques franchise in the Eric Lindros deal in 1992 that paved the way for the beginning years of the Avalanche dynasty. During his first three years with the Nordiques, Simon was up and down between the NHL and the minor leagues, never playing more than 37 games in a season. He made his biggest impact sticking up for teammates, as he accumulated over 100 penalty minutes in two of those three seasons. Although Simon played a small role (relatively) in the Avalanche dynasty over time, leaving for Washington after the 1996 Cup victory, he was impactful during that run.

During that season specifically, Simon showed flashes of why he was the 25th overall draft pick in 1990, scoring 16 goals and adding 18 assists that season. Simon also added 250 penalty minutes. That combination of scoring and toughness helped open a lot of space on the ice for the Colorado Avalanche's star players without question. A true power forward, Simon was a force.

During the 1996 playoffs, Simon played in 12 contests and registered one goal and two assists. He added 11 penalty minutes and was a vital part of the Avalanche lifting their first Stanley Cup.

After 1996, Simon moved on to Washington and several other teams over his 15-year career.

A native Ojibwa, Simon was said to be an inspiration for the young indigenous across Canada up to this day because of his career in the NHL. After battling and then beating alcohol addiction as a teen, Simon became a counsellor for other young indigenous youth about the dangers of alcohol.

By many accounts, although Simon had his flaws, as every person who walks this earth does, he was a good man and a great teammate. He provided toughness and was always willing to answer the bell to defend a friend in a league that had some of the all-time greatest heavyweights in it. Simon also had a mean streak when agitated and got himself into some trouble in the form of suspension. He was a player who lived on the edge and sometimes crossed it but was also respected league-wide.

He will be missed.