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Opinion

Simon’s aggression adds to wild play

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April 3, 2008

Just a couple months ago, the Minnesota Wild were in need of some serious help. They were one of the most inconsistent teams in the league.

  One minute, you’d think that the Wild would catch fire, take the NHL by the throat and choke it until it had no life left. The next, you’d be genuinely wondering if the Milwaukee Admirals could play better hockey. 

  The Wild needed to get on the phone and acquire a player to help make them a more consistent team.  Names like Petr Forsberg and Ollie Jokinen were being thrown around as possible targets. In the end, the Wild made one move: they sent a conditional sixth round draft pick to the New York Islanders for Chris Simon.

Simon is a goon and a cheap shot artist. 

  He isn’t known for his career on the ice, but more for the trouble he causes on it. Simon has been suspended for a variety of reasons including racial slurs, cheap shots and pulling a Triple H impression by taking his stick and trying to decapitate a New York Ranger. Simon was suspended 25 games for that offense, and one would have thought he learned his lesson.

  However, after his suspension, Simon went out and tried to slice Penguins forward Jarko Ruutu’s Achilles tendon with his skate. The league suspended Simon again, this time for 30 games. The Islanders would go on to trade Simon to the Wild at the trade deadline.

  Many fans griped about how the Wild were trying to become the Charlestown Chiefs by adding their own version of the Hanson Brothers. The Wild, looking for toughness, had already added Todd Fedoruk in November, but after Derek Boogaard rearranged his face a couple years ago, Fedoruk isn’t that much of a fighter anymore.

  This decision does make sense if you consider last year’s playoff series against Anaheim.  In Game four of that series, the Wild were on their way to a blowout victory. After the Wild went up 4-1 in the third period, a massive brawl ensued.

  Boogaard was involved with a couple of Ducks while Brad May snuck up on Kim Johnsson and drove him face-first into the ground. The Ducks would win the series four games to one the next night.

  Fast-forward to Friday night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks. The Wild were leading 4-0 in the third when Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows speared Pierre-Marc Bouchard with his stick.

  Bouchard had enough of Burrows’ antics and took a two-handed slash at Burrows and dropped the gloves. Once again, a huge brawl ensued. Boogaard wasn’t on the ice for this melee, but Chris Simon was. Simon knocked out one Canuck and then skated over to help Bouchard. After this, the Wild fans erupted because of the fact that Simon stood up for his teammate.

  This kind of toughness wins games in the NHL playoffs. Like it or not, physical play has its place in the NHL. While Simon has made some bad decisions in the past, he has been on his best behavior so far in Minnesota. If the Wild can continue to rough up their opponents, the State of Hockey may just start liking Mr. Simon, especially if he finally brings the Stanley Cup to Minnesota.

Chris Schad is a student at UW-River Falls.