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When He Is Bad...
MICHAEL FARBER
October 29, 2007
... Islanders left wing Chris Simon is horrid: a stick-swinging recidivist who drew a 25-game ban for slashing an opponent's face. So why do so many players—and his beloved coach—stand by him?
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October 29, 2007

When He Is Bad...

... Islanders left wing Chris Simon is horrid: a stick-swinging recidivist who drew a 25-game ban for slashing an opponent's face. So why do so many players—and his beloved coach—stand by him?

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After the slash to Hollweg, Simon tried to apologize personally—he planned to go to the Rangers' hotel on Long Island—but Hollweg was not interested. Simon's 6'3", 232-pound frame has always been covered with a thin skin. In the 1996 playoffs Colorado coach Marc Crawford lambasted Simon in practice following a first-round Game 2 loss in which the player, skating on eggshells, had been a cipher. In front of the team Crawford spat out, "What is it, Chris? Are you with us or not?" Moments later, when practice ended, Simon slumped to his knees and buried his head in his gloves.

Simon stayed in the lineup—in the next round he pounded legendary Chicago heavyweight Bob Probert in a Game 4 win that tied the series and swung momentum back to Colorado—but he didn't play in the final against Florida because of an ankle injury. After Simon held out that fall, the Avalanche shipped him to Washington. In key games against rival Detroit later that season, Colorado sorely missed his looming presence. The NHL always seems to have room for an intimidator like Simon.

So who is he, really: the tough guy given to swinging his stick or the guy Nolan says will do charity events at 6 a.m.? The guy who earned the NHL's longest suspension or a committed teammate who merely had what Hamrlik calls a "cuckoo moment?"

If, as writer Flannery O'Connor suggests, good and evil appear to be joined in every culture at the spine, why can't Chris Simon be both?

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