- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 25, 2002

The Washington Capitals are banking that Chris Simon once again can enjoy the injury-free success he experienced three seasons ago.

The team conveyed that much yesterday when they re-signed the veteran left wing to a one-year contract worth about $2.5million.

"If he comes in healthy and in shape, he can still be a very effective player for us. We think he's capable of having another big year for us," said Caps general manager George McPhee.

Simon, who had been a restricted free agent, made $2.25million last season, and the Caps exercised their option on his contract by submitting a qualifying offer of $2.5million. By signing, Simon avoided the situation he endured before the 2000-01 season, when he was a holdout.

The Caps could have matched any offers for Simon from other teams or received draft choices as compensation if he signed elsewhere.

Simon is entering his seventh season with the Caps, and at 6-foot-4 and 234 pounds, he is the team's most established enforcer. He played in all 82 games last season, a first for the 10-year veteran. He led the team with 137 penalty minutes.

Not known for his point production, Simon had his best season in 1999-2000, when he totaled 49 points and 29 goals in 75 games and was plus-11. The last two seasons combined, Simon had 51 points and 24 goals in 142 games and was minus-20.

Simon has endured a chronically dislocated right shoulder for years, but he was the only Cap to play every game last season despite continuing rehabilitation on the shoulder. He has had four operations on it in six years the last in May2001 since joining the Caps in 1996 from the Colorado Avalanche, with whom he won a Stanley Cup.

"It also takes time for the mind to believe that the operation was a success," Simon said last November. "I've only been healthy one season in the last five years and that's the year I had 29 goals. It's tough playing with one arm."

McPhee already has added defenseman Chris Hajt and centers Robert Lang and Kip Miller through free agency this offseason.

Staff writer Eric Fisher contributed to this report.

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