- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 30, 2001

Two seasons ago, Chris Simon played 75 games for the Washington Capitals, leading the team in goals (29), power play goals (7), shots and penalty minutes. He kept opponents honest with his fierce reputation and a menacing glare that stopped potential troublemakers in their tracks.
But last season he played 60 games, had 10 goals, his defensive rating went from plus-11 to minus-12, he held out for the first nine games, was suspended for two and hurt for another 10. And he had only three goals after Christmas.
The difference in the two seasons? Health, specifically the stability of his right shoulder. When Simon plays pain-free, he is a dream left wing for any coach. When the shoulder pops out of its socket, Simon is as useful on the ice and about as frightening as Pinky Lee.
Two years ago the shoulder stayed where it was supposed to stay most of the time and Simon bettered career highs across the board. Last season it dislocated with frustrating regularity; even an elaborate set of straps and braces could not bind it to Simon's body and keep it in place.
On May 6, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound wing had surgery for the fourth time on his right shoulder (his left shoulder has also been surgically rebuilt). He has finished his initial stages of rehabilitation but it is still not clear if he will be ready for full-contact drills when training camp workouts begin on Sept. 11.
"I'm hoping by the beginning of camp to take part in full and complete contact drills," Simon said yesterday after practice. "I've been here since the beginning of August doing therapy every day. When I first came back I was less optimistic about [being ready for] the start of camp, but I didn't know I would be where I am right now. If things continue to move along like they have been, in the first week or so hopefully I'll be able to do everything they ask."
The Caps would love to see it. First, Simon is considered by many to be a source of potential that has never been fully tapped, a man who has shown he can be a serious offensive threat when healthy and motivated. Second, with Simon on the ice or even on the bench glaring at the action, opponents will be less apt to take liberties with the likes of Jaromir Jagr or Peter Bondra.
But that is still a ways down the road and nobody is trying to rush him. His latest surgery, performed by team physician Ben Shaffer, lasted five hours and left him with an immobilized right arm for two months. The healing process went great, Simon said, and so far the rehab has gone the same way.
"It doesn't hurt to shoot but the strength still isn't there and that's the main thing, getting it to work properly and regaining my strength," he said.
"I believe 100 percent that the shoulder won't pop out any more, the doctor did a great job. Look, I can raise it up to here now," lifting his right arm to a 90 degree angle from his frame.
But the wing did make sacrifices with this surgery in an attempt to ensure stability. The surgical procedure, Simon said, tightened the connections to the socket but in doing so restricts his motion.
"My arm won't go to certain extents now but I can still play hockey and do everything I want to do for the rest of my life," he said, "even though movement is restricted."
The original injury dates back to his days playing junior hockey for the Ottawa 67s in the Ontario Hockey League. This is the fourth time he has been operated on since he joined the Caps in 1996.
"I had a hard time playing last season with just one arm, so this was the best decision," Simon said.


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