Stanley Cup champion Chris Simon's family says NHL veteran died by suicide, points to CTE link


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This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

The family of Stanley Cup champion Chris Simon “strongly believes” chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) played a role in his death, they said Wednesday through his agent Paul Theofanous.

Simon, who played for several NHL teams throughout his career, including with the Colorado Avalanche, died by suicide, his family said. He was 52.

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New York Islanders left wing Chris Simon, #12, warms up before playing against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Nov. 20, 2006. (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

“The family strongly believes, and witnessed firsthand, that Chris struggled immensely from CTE which unfortunately resulted in his death,” Theofanous’ statement said. “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.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, CTE is “a progressive and fatal brain disease associated with repeated traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), including concussions and repeated blows to the head.” CTE has also been linked to the development of dementia later in life. It has mostly been linked to football players.

Simon died Monday night in his hometown of Wawa, Ontario, Canada, according to an NHL Players’ Association spokesperson who was in touch with the former player’s agent.

Chris Simon vs Sharks

San Jose Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov, left, makes a save on Calgary Flames’ Chris Simon during third period NHL playoff action in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on Sunday, May 16, 2004. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

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“Chris was a great guy, a beloved teammate and an important part of our first championship season,” Avalanche team 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 NHL put out a statement as well.

“The National Hockey League mourns the passing of Chris Simon, who played in more than 800 NHL games over 15 seasons,” the league said. “A fierce competitor and teammate, Simon won the Stanley Cup with Colorado in 1996 and reached the 1998 Stanley Cup Final with Washington as well as the 2004 Stanley Cup Final with Calgary.”

“Our sincere condolences go out to his family, friends and former teammates.”

Chris Simon with the Rangers

New York Rangers’ Chris Simon celebrates his second-period goal against the New York Islanders on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2004, at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. (AP Photo/Ed Betz, File)

He played in the NHL from 1992 to 2008. He also spent time with the Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, New York Islanders and Minnesota Wild.

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He scored 72 goals in 320 games.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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