Simon suspended for rest of season, playoffs
Chris Simon of the New York Islanders received one of the stiffest suspensions in NHL history on Sunday whenthe league barred himfrom the remainder of the regular season and the entire playoffs for hitting New York Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg in the face with his stick.
The suspension must last a minimum of 25 games. Simon was not allowed to playin the Islanders' game on Saturday, and will miss the team's remaining 14 regular-season contests without pay. Ifthe Islandersdon't qualify for the playoffs or play fewer than 10 post-season games,Simon, who is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1,will serve the balance of his suspension at the start of next season.
"The National Hockey League will not accept the use of a stick in the manner and fashion in which Mr. Simon used his Thursday night," said Colin Campbell, the NHL's senior executive vice-president and director of hockey operations. "As a consequence of his actions, Mr. Simon has forfeited the privilege of playing in an NHL game again this season, regardless of how many games the Islanders ultimately play."
Based on Simon's $1 million US salary, the suspension will cost him a minimum of $80,213.90. Themoney forfeited goes to the NHL players' emergency assistance fund.
"I think what he got was pretty much expected around the league and by everybody else," Hollweg said after the Rangers' 2-1 win over Carolina on Sunday afternoon. "What's done is done.
"The league has made its decision and it's time to move forward now. I think it's fair."
Prosecutors considering charges
The incident occurred during the third period of the Rangers 2-1 win Thursday on Long Island, N.Y.After Hollwegput Simon face first into the boards with a hard check, Simon got up, skated a few strides toward Hollweg anddelivered a two-hand chop to the jaw with his stick.
Nassau County prosecutors are reviewing video of theincident to determine if criminal charges should be laid.
Simon's suspension, the sixth ofhis NHL career,will be the longest in terms ofgames missed in league history.
Though it's unlikely,if the Islanderswent on to win the Stanley Cup while requiring the maximum seven games in each of four rounds, Simon would miss 43 games.
Marty McSorley, then with Boston, missed 23 games after being suspended for the balance of the regular season in February 2000 for a stick attack on Donald Brashear, then with Vancouver. McSorley was banned for a year, but never appeared in another NHL game.
Gordie Dwyer also missed 23 games after a September 2000 suspension, He was playing for Tampa Bay when he abused officials and returned to the ice from the penalty box to fight in an exhibition game against Washington.
Todd Bertuzzi, then with Vancouver, sat out the rest of the season forpunching Colorado's Steve Moore from behind in March 2004. Bertuzzi missed 13 regular-season games and the Canucks' seven playoff games, and he was prevented from playing anywhere during the 2004-05 lockout. He had been suspended indefinitely and was eventually reinstated by commissioner Gary Bettman.
Dale Hunter,while he waswith Washington, was suspended for the first 21 regular-season games of the 1993-94 season for a hit on Pierre Turgeon, then with the Islanders, following a Turgeon goal during the 1993 playoffs.
Simon 'disgusted' by own actions
Campbell held a 90-minute hearing with Simon in New York on Saturday. Simon had been suspended indefinitely Friday pending a ruling by the NHL's chief disciplinarian.
Simon, from Wawa, Ont.,issued a statement Saturday night saying he'd watched a video of the Thursday incident and that he was "disgusted" by what he saw.
"There is absolutely no place in hockey for what I did," he said.
He apologized to Hollweg, a 23-year-old Californian, saying his hope was to "reach out to him in the near future." He also apologized to his team and to the league. The Rangers scored a power-play goal during his penalty to earntheir 2-1 victory.
"What you saw Thursday is not the person, player and competitor that I am," he stated. "I know my teammates and opponents over my 14 years in the NHL understand that."
Simon added that he was "completely out of it" when he got up after being checked by Hollweg. He underwent physical tests Friday and said he'd suffered a concussion when he hit the boards. Team doctors told him he should not travel.
With files from the Canadian Press