NHL says Simon barred 30 games
Islanders forward disciplined for using skate to step on Penguins' Ruutu
New York Islanders forward Chris Simon again leads the NHL for the longest suspension for an on-ice incident after being punished 30 games Wednesday for stepping on Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruutu in Saturday's 3-2 loss.
Simon missed the first five games of this season while completing a 25-game ban handed out in March.
That was the previous record for an NHL suspension.
This is the seventh time in Simon's career that he has been suspended.
Simon forfeits $292,683 US in salary and will be eligible to return Feb. 21 against Tampa Bay.
"Several factors were considered in imposing the longest suspension in NHL history for an on-ice incident," NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell said in a statement. "While it was fortunate there was no serious injury to Mr. Ruutu as a result of Simon's action, the deliberate act of kicking an opponent with an exposed skate blade, especially where the opponent is in a vulnerable position, is and always has been a
repugnant and totally unacceptable act in the game of hockey.
"In addition, while the act itself was extremely dangerous, the fact that this is the eighth incident requiring the imposition of supplementary discipline on Simon compelled me to impose a very severe penalty in this case."
Simon, 35, took a paid leave from the Islanders on Monday, agreeing with the team that he needed time away from hockey following his latest penalty for attempting to injure an opponent.
Late in Saturday's contest, with the Islanders trailing 3-2, Simon drew a match penalty when he pulled out Ruutu's leg, sending the forward to his knees between the team benches. Simon then stepped on the back of Ruutu's leg with his skate.
Simon was ejected and the Islanders were a man short for all but the final 54 seconds of the loss.
"There is no excuse for my actions … and I apologize to everyone involved," Simon said Monday in a statement. "The Islanders and I agree that the right thing to do is for me to take some time away from the team.
"I have enjoyed a long career achieving my dream of being a player in the National Hockey League and I'm proud of my accomplishments. But I acknowledge that time and assistance is needed before I return to the game."
Simon also apologized last season after he retaliated to a hit from Ryan Hollweg by striking the New York Rangers forward in the face and neck with a two-handed stick swing.
The forward was suspended for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs, forced to serve a minimum of 25 games. He missed the remaining 15 games before the post-season and sat out New York's five-game playoff loss to Buffalo.
"Since Saturday night, the focus of the New York Islanders has been on Chris Simon the person, not him as a player or on his place in our lineup," Islanders general manager Garth Snow said in a statement.
"As we announced on Monday, the Islanders are going to provide Chris the time and support that he needs for counselling. For Chris right now, hockey must be secondary to the priority of taking care of himself.
"Chris has played 15 seasons in the National Hockey League, has won a Stanley Cup and just as importantly has won the respect of his teammates. He is an Islander, deserves our compassion, and we ask that all Islanders fans join us in supporting Chris every step of the way."
"Chris is a good guy, he's a great teammate, he's a good friend who did something wrong," added Islanders captain Bill Guerin. "He just needs a little time and a little support from his family, and friends and his teammates.
"He understands what he did, we all do. There'll be consequences, and that's not for us to decide, but we're here to support him and to make sure things get straightened out."
Adds to suspension list
Simon has been suspended five previous times for violent on-ice acts and received a three-game ban in 1997 after directing a racial slur toward player Mike Grier, who is black.
During the 2000 playoffs, Simon, then with Washington, sat out Game 2 after he cross-checked Penguins defenceman Peter Popovic across the throat in the opener.
In April 2001, Simon drew a two-game ban for elbowing Anders Eriksson of Florida. He was given a pair of two-game suspensions in 2004 for cross-checking Tampa Bay's Ruslan Fedotenko, and then jumping on him and punching him, and for kneeing Dallas defenceman Sergei Zubov. Fedotenko and Simon are now Islanders teammates.
Simon signed a one-year deal worth $475,000 US over the summer that includes another $325,000 in potential bonuses.
He had 10 goals and 27 points in 67 games last season, but managed only one goal and two assists in 26 games this season with 51 penalty minutes.
With files from the Canadian Press