- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 23, 2002

The meeting along the boards yesterday after the Washington Capitals' practice seemed to take a long time, coach Bruce Cassidy very animated as he tried to make his point, left wing Chris Simon silent as he watched and listened.
"I told him I wasn't happy with [his penalties], they were very early in the game and they hurt us," Cassidy said.
"I made a mistake and I apologized for my mistake," Simon said.
Thus, said Cassidy, the swinging door on the coach's doghouse swung open and Simon had a clean slate.
Yesterday's developments came after Sunday night's game against the Stars in Dallas, a 5-2 Caps loss. Simon was detected interfering against the Stars' Aaron Downey. The right wing goaded Simon into adding to his troubles and the big left wing obliged, slashing the Dallas player.
Simon was hit with a double minor at 2:42 of the first period. Less than three minutes later Dallas had converted both power plays and the Caps were in a 2-0 hole with the game 5:08 old. Simon returned to the bench where he sat for the remainder of the game.
But the damage was done. Goalie Craig Billington, making his first start of the season, was screened on the two early goals but allowed another at 10:13. His night, and for all intents the Caps', was over.
Simon, 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, is an enigma. In the league since 1992, he was the undisputed heavyweight champion until shoulder problems curtailed his fistic career, has a Stanley Cup ring from his days with Colorado and just three seasons ago led the Caps in scoring with 29 goals and 49 points. Injuries have prevented him from approaching those figures since.
This season he had what most agreed was the chance of a lifetime, especially for a player who was in the final year of his contract (paying him $2.5million). He was teamed with Jaromir Jagr on the first line because he was a strong physical presence, good around the net and could muck along the boards. All he had to do was stay out of trouble and points would roll his way.
But he has taken penalties in every game. Only two of them, both in Dallas, resulted in power-play goals but having anybody in the penalty box breaks up the rhythm of lines and flow of the game. Washington has been shorthanded 35 times in five games this season.
"The coach said the last game's over, there's nothing we can do about it," Simon said. "He said in the future he wants me to be a more physical player, wants me to be more disciplined and not take bad penalties, especially at the start of games. It kind of took away our chance to win. I've got to stick to playing hockey and forget about the retaliatory things."
Cassidy: "We can't keep living with this, having to kill penalties that aren't meaningful penalties. Tomorrow's a new day, let's hope it corrects itself."
Simon lost his job on the first line, where he could have averaged better than 18 minutes a game, and been moved to the fourth where he will get maybe six per game. But Cassidy changes personnel on lines faster than a blackjack dealer and he has already said Simon will be up and down, depending on the team's needs and the wing's performance.
"I told him that in my doghouse, the door's usually open and swinging," Cassidy said, clearly making his point to Simon and others that undisciplined play won't be tolerated.

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