Chris Simon

Date of Last Contract:October 23, 2000

Signed Through: 2001-2002 Season



Simon cuts hair, keeps intense glare on return to Caps

By Dave Fay
The Washington Times
Wednesday, October 25, 2000

During his eight seasons in the NHL Chris Simon developed a reputation as one of the better heavyweights in hockey, an individual fierce even in appearance, with a mean, threatening glare and long brown hair that hung to the middle of his back.

The hair is gone, replaced by stubble. And if anything, his appearance is even more fearsome -- the glare more menacing, the threatening posture more pronounced. Facially, he bears a striking resemblance to New York Rangers center Mark Messier, the man who has long been the most feared man in the NHL, with a glare that could stop a clock at 100 yards.

Simon returned to hockey yesterday, ending his 46-day holdout after he and the Washington Capitals agreed to a two-year deal with the club holding an option for another season. Physicals prevented him from making it to Piney Orchard Ice Arena in time for practice as expected, but he was the toast of the town when he arrived.

"It won't be long for me to get back into the swing of things,'' he said, saying he had been skating two hours an evening back in his native Wawa, a small town in northern Ontario where he had been waiting for the negotiations to run their course. He wasn't pleased with the time they took.

"I thought this should have been done a long time ago,'' he said. "Where we came in at [financially] I thought was very reasonable, and to get where we are today, it should have been done a long time ago.

"I put a lot of thought into my contract, into the amount I was asking for. It was $2.5 million, and I thought that was a very fair price. To come in at what I got, I got a little signing bonus with the contract, and it puts me close to where I want to be. I just wanted to get back and start playing.

"Am I satisfied? Yeah, I'm satisfied.''

There is some dispute about how much he asked for, another figure being $3 million a year for three years. He settled for $2.25 million a year for two years (the holdout cost him $131,641), another $2.5 million if the club picks up the option, a $100,000 signing bonus and incentives that could pay him as much as $450,000 in each of the first two seasons if he scores 45 goals and has 90 points. He made $1.32 million last season.

Simon earned the money by staying healthy for the first time in his hockey life and for starting to reach the potential many observers have thought was there all along. His transformation from brawler to goal-scorer was not hindered when coach Ron Wilson elevated him to the first line to play on the left side of Adam Oates, master of the no-look pass. The gifted center set up Simon for 16 of his team-high 29 goals.

"The commitment I've shown in training over the last four to five years has made a difference in my game, but missing training camp and almost a month of the season, it's going to hurt me,'' he said. ``I don't think it's going to hurt as much as it would in the past when I wasn't training. I think it will take a while to get things going, to get my timing back, work my way into the lineup.

"I did a lot of work when I was in Canada and through the summer, so hopefully it won't take that long for me to get back out there and start playing. I've been on the ice two hours every evening, but nothing compares to skating with the guys. It'll be a decision the coaches make when I start playing, [but] I don't think it would be unreasonable to say a week from now I should be able to play.''

If he's right, that would make him available to play in St. Louis on Nov. 2, the first game of a three-game road swing. That would mean he would miss the entire month of October.

But even if he is not in 100 percent game shape by the St. Louis game, there are times when 50 percent of Simon is much better than no Simon at all. His very presence makes opponents treat the Caps with more respect (opponents can only hope he remembers to take his Treat Humanity with Kindness pills every day). He is now a pronounced threat offensively and has a shot that could dent the side of a tank. On top of that, he was plus-11 defensively.