Advertisement

Chris Simon, NHL Star and Stanley Cup Winner, Dead at 52

"We are grieving with the loss of our son, brother, father, partner, teammate and friend," Simon's family reportedly said in a statement

<p>Scott Cunningham/Getty</p> Chris Simon.

Scott Cunningham/Getty

Chris Simon.

Canadian professional ice hockey player Chris Simon has died at age 52.

Simon's family confirmed his death in a statement published by ESPN Tuesday and shared by his former agent, Paul Theofanouson, which linked his death to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — which is described by the Mayo Clinic as a brain disorder "likely caused by repeated head injuries."

CTE also gets worse over time and can only be diagnosed by a brain autopsy, according to the Mayo Clinic.

"The family strongly believes and witnessed firsthand, that Chris struggled immensely from CTE which unfortunately resulted in his death," the statement read about Simon's possible cause of death.

"We are grieving with the loss of our son, brother, father, partner, teammate and friend. The entire Wawa [Ontario] community is sharing in our grief. 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," the message concluded.

<p>Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty</p> Chris Simon.

Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty

Chris Simon.

Related: Former NHL Player Konstantin Koltsov Died of 'Apparent Suicide' in Miami: Police

The NHL Alumni Association also paid tribute to Simon, writing on X (formerly known as Twitter) that "The NHL Alumni Association is devastated to learn that Stanley Cup Champion, Chris Simon, has passed away at the age of 52 years old."

The message mentioned Simon being drafted 25th overall in 1990 to the Philadelphia Flyers, adding "He would have a lengthy NHL career, playing for eight different teams, appearing in 782 regular-season games, and scoring 305 points."

The tribute also mentioned Simon helping the Colorado Avalanche win their first Stanley Cup during the 1995-96 season, adding: "Chris was never afraid to stand up for his teammates, and played a key role in the dressing room. He was a beloved friend, father, brother, and son."

"We send our deepest condolences to Chris’ family, friends, and former teammates during this very difficult time," the message continued. "The family has asked to respect their privacy during this difficult time."

<p>Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty</p> Chris Simon.

Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty

Chris Simon.

Avalanche president Joe Sakic added in a statement, per ESPN, "Chris was a great guy, a beloved teammate and important part of our first championship season."

"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," Sakic continued.

During his career, Simon, who was one of hockey's most feared enforcers, also played for the Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, Calgary Flames, New York Islanders, and Minnesota Wild, spending the majority of his career with the Washington Capitals. He last played in the NHL in the 2007-08 season, before playing in the KHL in Russia.

Related: Konstantin Koltsov, Former Penguins Player and Boyfriend of Aryna Sabalenka, Dead at 42

Simon's fellow Canadian and former teammate Mike Commodore was among those paying tribute.

"Folks…sad day today…Chris Simon was most definitely an intimidating guy on the ice…hell of a player as well…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," Commodore wrote.

The Washington Capitals also shared a statement on X, writing that the team was "deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Chris Simon."

"Chris was a fixture in Washington for parts of seven seasons and was an integral member of the 1998 team that reached the first Stanley Cup final in franchise history. Our entire organization extends our deepest condolences to his family and friends," the message added.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Simon's death follows that of former NHL player Konstantin Koltsov, boyfriend of tennis star Aryna Sabalenka, who died by suicide on Monday.

“According to investigators on Monday, March 18, 2024, at approximately 12:39 a.m., Bal Harbour Police and Fire Rescue were dispatched to the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, 9703 Collins Avenue, in reference to a male that jumped from a balcony,” read a statement from the Miami-Dade Police Department obtained by PEOPLE. 

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or go to 988lifeline.org.

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.