Simon's on-ice antics are drawing heat

Calgary Flames' Chris Simon (right) fights with Edmonton Oilers' Georges Laraque during second...

Calgary Flames' Chris Simon (right) fights with Edmonton Oilers' Georges Laraque during second period NHL action at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., on Saturday April 1, 2006. (Sun Media/Darryl Dyck)

JOE WARMINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:42 AM ET

He may be one of the NHL's worst bad boys but they won't be taking Chris Simon's name off the Welcome to Wawa sign any time soon.

However, when the embattled local hero returns to the north, he'll be getting a talking to from his granddad.

"I just wish he would play hockey," said Max Simon, 75, who played for the Sudbury Wolves in 1950. "He can play."

But Chris Simon can also lose his cool, and his rap sheet is unprecedented in NHL history.

His eighth suspension is the NHL's longest at 30 games -- breaking his own record of 25, which far overshadows his 144 goals and 161 assists in 770 games.

In Wawa, where the 35-year-old Simon built a beautiful log home, the star walks on water. No one condones his latest infraction, but "we still support Chris 100%," said Nick Alexopoulos. "He's done a lot of good around here."

A lot of people in Wawa are hoping their favourite son has more NHL games left to play. One of them is his grandfather, who, when he saw the infraction, said: "Oh God, here we go again."

Needless to say, up in Wawa, his very proud grandfather is "disappointed."

"I am," he said. "Off the ice he is the nicest guy. I don't know what the hell happens when he is on the ice."

The New York Islanders forward can snap is what happens.

"And when he does, people can get hurt," said Bill Montague, sports editor of the Sault Star, who covered Chris when he was with the OHL's Soo Greyhounds. "How many chances do you give a guy?"

A lot of people are worried that Simon is a ticking time bomb and someday someone will really get hurt -- similar to what happened with Steve Moore.

You know his NHL track record -- the latest incident with him stepping on another player to go with seven other visits to see the NHL sheriff in his 15 years in the league.

Montague is not surprised and says no one should be.

"He was suspended for 33 games in his last season in the OHL," said Montague, who compiled Simon's rap sheet from the Greyhounds 1991-92 season:

* Oct. 5 -- Suspended for 12 games for verbally abusing an official and cross checking Niagara Falls defenceman David Babcock across the mouth causing him to lose seven teeth.

* Nov. 29 -- Suspended two games after being the instigator in a second fight.

* Dec. 8 -- Suspended five games after punching and knocking out Windsor goalie Todd Hunter.

* Jan. 19 -- Suspended four games after being the instigator in a fight and a pre-game altercation.

* Jan. 31 -- Suspended two games for verbally abusing an official.

* Feb. 2 -- Suspended indefinitely by Greyhounds for disciplinary reasons. Missed two games.

* March 28 -- Suspended for five games for spearing Kitchener's Brad Barton.

* May 2 -- Suspended two games for an attempted spear to the face of North Bay's Rob Thorpe.

That is some list, and former Soo GM Sherry Bassin remembers saying to him: "So, Chris, what is it you want to be? A doctor? A lawyer? What is it you want for a career because you seem to not want to play hockey? Soon after he went into anger counselling."

Looks like he needs it again. Interestingly, last night Assembly of First Nation's chief Phil Fontaine called on NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell to apologize to Simon for suggesting he would need help from "drug and alcohol doctors."

"Mr. Simon must be punished for this unfortunate incident. However, it was extremely hurtful to Mr. Simon and his many fans, including those in our First Nations communities, to hear from Mr. Campbell that such behaviour is related to drug and/or alcohol abuse," Fontaine told The Canadian Press.

Bassin confirmed he's confident alcohol is not a factor. Although he's in Simon's corner again, Bassin says he can understand why people would not be.

"It made me want to vomit," he said of watching the latest incident. "It's not just the act but it was so unlike Simon in that it was sneaky."

But Bassin does not believe in giving up on people.

"I love the guy but the time has come, said the Walrus, for him to take responsibility for his actions. Does he want to be a goon or an NHL player?"

And that's what his grandfather wants to know, too.

"I know it was the heat of the game but that is no excuse," Max Simon said. "I do hope he comes home (during the suspension) so I can have a good little talk with him. I am going to tell him to play hockey."

We'll find out in March if the New York Islanders will give him yet another second chance to do that.


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