New York Islanders forward Chris Simon was suspended indefinitely by the NHL on Friday for hitting New York Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg in the face with his stick.
The suspension is pending a hearing between Simon and Colin Campbell, the NHL's director of hockey operations. A date for the hearing, where the length of the suspension will be decided, has not yet been scheduled.
The situation arose after Hollweg nailed Simon into the boards with a hard, clean check in the third period of Thursday's Rangers-Islanders game. No penalty was called for Hollweg's hit on Simon.
Simon, who hit the boards face first, got up and skated a few strides toward Hollweg and chopped him with his stick in the face, landing it on Hollweg's jaw.
"I just finished my check on the half wall," Hollweg said. "I think he was a little fazed by it. I turned around, and the next thing I knew he's winding up and hitting me in the face."
Hollweg fell and remained prone on the ice for several minutes. He was bleeding from the chin when he got up.
Hollweg told reporters afterward that he temporarily lost his hearing. He had a few stitches, but practised on Friday and should be back in action Saturday when the Rangers visit the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Simon was ejected after he was slapped with a match penalty for deliberate attempt to injure. The Rangers' Petr Prucha scored on the resulting long power play to lift the Rangers to a 2-1 win over their local rivals.
"The best retaliation is to score on that power play," Hollweg said. "I couldn't feel any better than when that puck went in."
Simon's hit on Hollweg drew comparisons to the Marty McSorley chop on Donald Brashear several years ago that left McSorley suspended for the remainder of the season (23 games) and the playoffs.
Simon's hit also came three years to the day that former Vancouver Canuck Todd Bertuzzi attacked Steve Moore of the Colorado Avalanche from behind. Bertuzzi missed the final 13 regular-season games and the playoffs, but the suspension ended up lasting 17 months and prevented him from playing in Europe during the NHL lockout.
Bertuzzi was reinstated by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman before the 2005-06 season.
The Simon-Hollweg episode is the latest incident of on-ice violence that has plagued the NHL the past few weeks.
Buffalo Sabres forward Chris Drury missed four games with concussion-like symptoms after being hit by Chris Neil of the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 22. Neil was not penalized on the play, but the Sabres argued the Ottawa forward made a deliberate attempt to injure Drury.
Last week, Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle was hit in the head late by New Jersey's Cam Janssen. No penalty was assessed, but the NHL suspended Janssen for three games.