It’s been over twenty years since he played in the Memorial Cup for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, yet Ontario Hockey League grad Chris Simon is still going strong. Simon starts his 20th year in professional hockey this season with Metallurg Novokuznetsk of the Russian-based KHL. It would have been his 21st but Chris chose to sit out the 2004-05 lockout season. Simon will turn 41 in January, 2013. He is the second oldest player in the KHL behind Oleg Petrov who turned 41 earlier this year.
Simon was taken by the Ottawa 67’s in the third round of the OHL Priority Selection way back in 1988. He played in the OHL from 1988-89 to 1991-92. His first three full seasons were spent with Ottawa. In his final year, he was traded to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds just two games into the season. The Greyhounds won the Robertson Cup that year with a 4-3 victory over the North Bay Centennials. The Sault then marched to the Memorial Cup final game before falling to the Kamloops Blazers 5-4.
Chris was drafted after just his second season of junior by the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft. Simon never played for the Flyers, despite fitting their traditional player model to a T. Instead, he was traded to the Quebec Nordiques, along with five others for Eric Lindros in 1992.
Despite a reputation as a goon, Simon could play some hockey. He was a point per game player in the OHL while scoring 144 goals and totalling 305 points over 782 NHL regular season games. In 1999-00 with the Washington Capitals, when offence in the NHL was on the decline, Chris scored a career best 29 goals.
Of course, he also sat 1,824 minutes in the penalty box over those 782 games. Never a league leader in the PIM department, Chris finished tenth in 1995-96 with 250 minutes while playing for the Colorado Avalanche. In 2003-04, a season split between the New York Rangers and Calgary Flames, he finished second to fellow OHL grad Sean Avery with 250 minutes again. He wore the KHL belt in 2008-09, sitting 263 minutes in just 40 games for Vityaz Chekhov.
Over his NHL career, Simon played for the Nordiques, Avalanche, Capitals, Chicago Blackhawks, Rangers, Flames, New York Islanders and Minnesota Wild. He played in the Stanley Cup finals on three occasions. In 1995-96, his only year in Colorado, the Avalanche swept the Florida Panthers to win the prize. Two years later, his Washington Capials were swept by the Detroit Red Wings. In 2003-04, the Flames lost in seven to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Simon has been in the KHL since 2008-09. 2012-13 will be his second season with Novokuznetsk. This past season he played jus 24 games, recorded three goals and sat a modest 43 minutes in the box. The team finished 16th overall out of 23 teams and ninth in the East Conference, eight points out of a playoff spot. Novokuznetsk has not qualified for the post season since 2006-07. Chris is joined on the roster by former NHLers Brent Sopel and Randy Robitaille.