The Minnesota Wild met their goal of getting bigger for the playoffs, and they acquired one of the league's biggest troublemakers to do it.
Just before the NHL's trade deadline passed on Tuesday afternoon, the Wild sent a sixth-round draft pick to the New York Islanders for oft-punished left wing Chris Simon.
``I know he's had issues. There's no doubt about that,'' general manager Doug Risebrough said on a conference call with reporters. ``I wouldn't call it baggage.''
The Wild were knocked around last April in a first-round loss to eventual Stanley Cup champion Anaheim. The Ducks won that series in five games.
Minnesota has had trouble playing tough when it counts this season, too, and the Wild are coming off a disastrous week. They gained only one point over three straight defeats, squandering a six-point lead in the Northwest Division and falling behind the Calgary Flames. The Wild played at the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.
``I think our youth is better, and there's no doubt that we're bigger,'' Risebrough said. ``We're stronger. And that was a factor, against maybe not being the No. 1 team in our division or not advancing. We needed to make sure we could compete physically, so those changes have been made, and I think that's positive.''
Simon returned last week from 30-game suspension for stomping with his skate on the leg of an opposing player. He got a 25-game ban from the league last season for a high stick to the head of another foe. The 36-year-old Simon has been suspended eight times in 15 years in the NHL.
``I just think that I've learned from my mistakes,'' Simon said in a brief phone interview. ``I'm an honest person. I've always accepted responsibility on the things I've had to work on to make myself a better person. Away from hockey, I've lived a great life. I've gotten in trouble a couple of times on the ice. But away from hockey, I don't even think I've gotten a speeding ticket.
``I'm so excited for a fresh start, but I still know how I have to play and to stick within the rules of the game. To have a fair competitive spirit, but also a fierce competitive spirit.''
Simon said he was ``a little bit'' surprised to learn of the trade, but eager to join the Wild.
``I'm very excited to come to a team that's in the playoff (race) and has a lot of great young players,'' he said. ``With some other big physical guys, too, that type of mix you can go a long way.''
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