New York Rangers' Chris Simon celebrates his second-period goal against...

New York Rangers' Chris Simon celebrates his second-period goal against the New York Islanders, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2004, at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. Former NHL enforcer Chris Simon has died. He was 52. Simon died Monday night, March 18, 2024, according to a spokesperson for the NHL Players' Association. Credit: AP/ED BETZ

Former NHL enforcer Chris Simon has died. He was 52.

Simon died Monday night in his hometown of Wawa, Ontario, a spokesperson for the NHL Players' Association, who has been in touch with the late forward's agent, said Tuesday. Paul Theofanous, who represented Simon, did not respond to a message seeking further details and Ontario Provincial Police declined to answer questions about Simon’s death. A cause of death was not immediately available.

Union spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon said Simon's children and family were grieving over the sudden loss.

Simon played 857 regular-season and playoff games over 15 NHL seasons from 1993-2008. Over his career, he fought more than 100 times and racked up 1,824 penalty minutes to rank 67th in league history.

“For a big tough player, he was also a very kind, caring individual who was always respectful and grateful for advice," former agent Larry Kelly said in a text message to The Associated Press.

Simon won the Stanley Cup with Colorado in 1996 and was part of runs to the final with Washington in 1998 and Calgary in 2004. He also spent time with the Quebec Nordiques before they became the Avalanche and played for Chicago, Calgary, Minnesota and the New York Rangers and Islanders, before finishing with five seasons in the KHL from 2008-13 and retiring.

“Chris was a great guy, a beloved teammate and an important part of our first championship season," said Joe Sakic, Colorado's president of hockey operations who was captain when the team won in 1996. "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.”

FILE -San Jose Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov, left, makes a...

FILE -San Jose Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov, left, makes a save on Calgary Flames' Chris Simon during third period NHL playoff action in Calgary, Sunday, May 16, 2004. Former NHL enforcer Chris Simon has died. He was 52. Simon died Monday night, March 18, 2024, according to a spokesperson for the NHL Players' Association. Credit: AP/JEFF MCINTOSH

Simon, who was of Ojibwa descent, was considered a role model for First Nations hockey players across Canada. He was also a fan favorite and popular teammate at multiple stops.

“Chris Simon was most definitely an intimidating guy on the ice,” former teammate Mike Commodore posted on social media. “We spent a lot of time together during Flames '04 run since we were both living in the hotel. ... He couldn’t have been nicer to me. RIP Chris. You will be missed.”

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