Around the NHL: A tribute to Chris Simon and Kostantin Koltsov, former Flame Akim Aliu returns to hockey

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
29 days ago
Content warning: This article mentions the topic of suicide. If you or a loved one needs help, visit any of the resources at the bottom of the article.
The biggest and also saddest news in recent times came on Tuesday, as two former NHLers in Konstantin Koltsov and Chris Simon both died by suicide, passing away at the ages 42 and 52 respectively.
Simon played 782 National Hockey League goals scoring 144 goals and 305 points. He led the Washington Capitals in goals during the 1999-2000 season with 29, and helped the Calgary Flames during their pursuit of the Stanley Cup in 2004 with five goals and seven points in 16 games.
Koltsov only spent three seasons in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins, scoring 12 goals and 38 points in 144 games, before winding down his career in the Kontinental Hockey League. His best season came in 2003-04, when he scored nine goals and 29 points in a full 82-game season.
Following the NHL’s general managers meetings on Wednesday, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly responded to a question about if the league has changed their view on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
Something has to change, whether that be new management, or harsher penalties for fighting and hits to the head. Sure, it’s incredibly exciting when two players drop their mitts, but player safety needs to come first.

Akim Aliu returns to action

Good news: Akim Aliu, the right-shot forward, is returning to the sport on a tryout with the San Jose Sharks’ AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda.
Aliu is a former Flame, playing seven games with the team in 2011-12 and 2012-13, scoring two goals and three points. The 34-year-old has played for many different teams in many different leagues, including the Ontario Hockey League, American Hockey League, Swedish Hockey League, Kontinental Hockey League, as well as both Slovakia and Czechia’s top leagues. Aliu last played in Czechia in 2019-20 before hanging up the skates for several seasons.
He’s had an even greater impact off the ice, as he and Evander Kane co-founded the Hockey Diversity Alliance, an organization that is looking to embrace diversity in the sport and make the game accessible and safe for everyone.

Rick Nash named general manager for Canada

Despite retiring at the age of 34, Rick Nash has remained in hockey and will serve as Team Canada’s general manager at the 2024 IIHF championship.
This tournament runs from May 10-26 and features 16 countries, some of which aren’t who you’d expect like Great Britain and Poland. It’s a tournament where any team can do well, as Canada is the reigning champs, with the 2023 silver medal going to Germany and the bronze to the host, Latvia.
The tournament gives players that didn’t make the playoffs an opportunity to play hockey for their nation, with Flames’ players like MacKenzie Weegar (Canada) and Matt Coronato (United States) participating in the 2023 IIHF World Championship.
As for Nash, he spent 15 seasons in the National Hockey League where he scored 437 goals and 805 points in 1,060 games. This included three 40-goal seasons and a metric boatload of 30 goal seasons. Now 39, he unfortunately had to retire at the rather young age of 34 due to unresolved concussion issues.
If you or someone you love is struggling, here are some numbers to help kickstart the process of getting better. Note: This is from Alberta Health Services.
Addition Helpline: 1-866-332-2322
Mental Health Helpline: 1-877-303-2642
Let’s get rowdy! GAME DAY hosted by Flamesnation & Barn Burner at Greta Bar YYC is coming at you live on Saturday March 23rd! Join the crew at our favorite Game Day Watch Party spot, Greta, to watch Calgary take on Vancouver! Doors open at 7pm. Tickets are $10! Good food, good prizes and a guaranteed good time. This event is brought to you by McLeod Law LLP and Village Honda. Get your tickets at nationgear.ca before they sell out!

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