Oh Steve Simmons… when will you learn that when you pick a fight with the big boys, they just might hit back.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the Toronto Sun columnist, he’s a veteran sportswriter based in the Toronto area who regularly covers the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Blue Jays for the Sun and TSN1050 Radio. He’s also one of the country’s, and by extension hockey’s, most controversial reporters.
You may recall that Simmons earned some notoriety for himself when he made the erroneous assertion that then Toronto Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel frequented a hot dog stand outside his Toronto condominium every day. If this doesn’t ring a bell, here’s a recounting of the events courtesy of Simmons’ very own Wikipedia entry:
In 2015, Simmons created a controversy when, in a column he wrote for the Toronto Sun, he claimed that NHL forward Phil Kessel frequented a hot dog vendor located outside of his apartment on a daily basis. The column attracted the attention of ESPN personality Keith Olbermann, who awarded Simmons the title of "Worst Person In The Sports World". Within days, the accuracy of Simmons' column was called into question when contributors to a Toronto Maple Leafs related blog known as Pension Plan Puppets determined that Kessel did not live near where Simmons claimed he did. While participating as a guest on a local radio program, Simmons attempted to clarify the matter by claiming that there was a miscommunication with his source regarding the location of the hot dog vendor. He has yet to respond in print to address concerns about the accuracy of that column.
Yeah… he’s that guy. Oh… you may also remember Kessel’s response after winning his second Stanley Cup championship with the Pittsburgh Penguins last summer:
We love you, Phil. Don’t ever change.
Well, now that you’re re-acquainted with Simmons, you’ll be unsurprised to hear that he’s at the center of yet another controversy after calling out former NHLer Marc Savard.
In his weekly column for the Sun, Simmons takes a shot at Savard saying, “Marc Savard basically disappeared when his career ended in Boston. Media called. Nobody answered. Now suddenly Savard is a media guy. My advice: If he calls, don’t answer.”
Pretty classy, there Steve. Taking pot shots at a guy who had his career ended due to a traumatic brain injury.
But, here’s the beauty of it all… despite having full license to rip back at Simmons, Savard elected to take the high road in his response.
Savard’s full statement reads:
“I’ve never been one to let negative media posts get to me but this one has hurt because for me this is extremely personal. After my concussions in 2011, I spent many years dealing with some serious mental health issues and post-concussion symptoms. I did not withdraw myself from hockey or the hockey world by choice. I was not in a good place! I needed those years to heal. Thankfully, I was able to make a full recovery with the support I received from my family, friends, advisors and medical professionals. Today I feel happy, healthy and very lucky! I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given lately to raise awareness for mental health issues and concussions as well to give back to the game I love, the great game of hockey.”
Incredible. Good on you Marc for taking the high road. Simmons could certainly learn to take a page out of your book…