NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell said New York Islanders forward Chris Simon is extremely fortunate he's never severely injured a player during his checkered 15-year career.
Campbell, who suspended Simon an NHL record 30 games on Wednesday for stepping on Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruutu's foot with his skate in Saturday's 3-2 loss, told Hockey Night In Canada Radio that the embattled Islanders' winger could easily be in same boat as Anaheim Ducks winger Todd Bertuzzi.
Simon has been suspendedeight times in his career, including a 25-game punishment for striking New York Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg in the face and neck with a vicious two-handed stick swing last season.
"Chris has been very lucky in some of the things he's done that he hasn't caused more damage," said Campbell, the league's director of hockey operations.
"You look at the Bertuzzi situation and he caused a lot of damage and he's still suffering from it, as is Steve Moore. Chris has been lucky that in the Hollweg case, he didn't cause [significant damage]. He could've really hurt Hollweg severely with the way he swung that stick."
Campbell acknowledges he normally gets resistance at the hearings from the NHLPA and the offending player before he hands down his ruling. On Monday, Campbell said Simon was remorseful and didn't speak much. Even the player's union did little to defend Simon's actions.
"I don't normally get into many things in the hearing because it tends to get into a debate," he said. "In this one, I went over and above, talked about a number of things regarding Chris's past offences. The PA was good in letting me go on. Usually they stand up and say 'whoa', but they were good at letting me go on and talk.
Aside from the lengthy suspension, Campbell believes the monetary hit will impact Simon in the long run. Simon will forfeit $292,683 US in salary and won't be eligible to return until Feb. 21 against Tampa Bay.
"That's a pretty hard hit for a guy, who if he doesn't finish his career, could end up like what happened to [former NHL player] Marty McSorley."
In 2000, McSorley, who was playing for the Boston Bruins, swung and hit Vancouver's Donald Brasher in the head, causing the forward to lose consciousness and suffer a grade 3 concussion.
McSorley was suspended for more than a year and never returned to the NHL despite a comeback attempt.
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. He will receive drug and alcohol treatment under the guidance of the league and the union's substance abuse and behavioural program.
While Campbell has been handing out suspensions for nearly a decade, he admits to never seeing a player actually attempt to injure another opponent by stepping on him.
"A lot of the kicks come when the players are embroiled in a little bit of a battle," he said. "They can't get their hands free and they couldn't get at the other guy so they push away with their foot. I have never seen a guy just do this."