Sign in to comment!

Menu
Home

NHL Suspends Islanders' Chris Simon for Record 25 Games

If Chris Simon plays again for the New York Islanders, or for anyone else in the NHL, it won't be until next season.

And it might not even be on opening night.

The NHL hit back hard Sunday, suspending the rugged Islanders forward for a league-record 25 games. Simon will miss the rest of the regular season and playoffs as punishment for his two-handed stick attack to the face of Ryan Hollweg of the New York Rangers in a 2-1 loss Thursday night.

Click here to get full sports coverage at FOXSports.com

Simon will miss the Islanders' final 15 regular-season contests and the entire postseason, if the club gets that far. If the team plays fewer than 10 playoff games this year, the suspension will carry over to next season.

The ban is the longest in terms of games missed in NHL history. Marty McSorley was suspended 23 games in February 2000 for knocking out Donald Brashear with a stick-swinging hit. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stretched that punishment to one year, and McSorley never played in the league again.

Simon's one-year deal with the Islanders will run out before he is eligible to play again. He can become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Based on Simon's $1 million contract, he will lose at least $80,200 because of the suspension.

"The National Hockey League will not accept the use of a stick in the manner and fashion in which Mr. Simon used his," league disciplinarian Colin Campbell said in a statement. "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."

The Islanders are seventh in the Eastern Conference, three points above the playoff cutoff. If New York goes the distance in all four rounds of best-of-seven series, Simon would miss a total of 43 games.

Simon put on his Islanders jersey for the last time this season Friday for a team picture.

"I want to apologize to my team and Islanders fans everywhere," Simon said in a statement released Saturday night during the first game of the suspension. "My actions Thursday night played a major part in our team losing a crucial game. I also want to apologize to the National Hockey League for the damage I have caused this great game of ours."

Campbell announced the punishment one day after a hearing at the league office in New York. Simon was banned indefinitely Friday, following his vicious hit in retaliation for a hard check by Hollweg.

This is Simon's sixth NHL suspension and the league's longest since Vancouver's Todd Bertuzzi was sidelined 13 regular-season games and seven in the playoffs for his blindside punch to the head of Colorado's Steve Moore in March 2004. Bertuzzi wasn't reinstated until 17 months later, after the yearlong lockout.

Along with McSorley, Tampa Bay's Gordie Dwyer received a 23-game suspension in September 2000 for abusing officials and coming out of the penalty box to fight in an exhibition game against Washington.

"There is absolutely no place in hockey for what I did," Simon said.

Simon added that he was diagnosed Friday with a concussion as a result of Hollweg's hit that drove him into the boards. His inability to fly made it necessary for Campbell to come to New York for the hearing instead of holding it in Toronto.

Simon was given a match penalty for deliberate attempt to injure when he got up from ice after being crunched by Hollweg against the boards. Simon took a few strides toward Hollweg, and caught him with a two-handed swing of his stick that connected on the chin and neck.

Hollweg took a few stitches in the chin, but was not seriously hurt. He was in the lineup Saturday for the Rangers' loss at Pittsburgh, and again on Sunday versus Carolina.

"Whether it's appropriate or not isn't for me to judge," Rangers coach Tom Renney said Sunday. "It's one of those things everyone will have a reaction to. The two things for me that are most important are that Ryan is OK and able to play, and Chris, for me anyway, is a good man.

"He's had to pay the price, and that's appropriate. I think it needs to be a message that's loud and clear, of course. We all have to move forward and learn what we can from it."

Simon has been suspended four other 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.

Brashear, one of the NHL's toughest fighters, said problems escalate when players cross the line.

"I know what type of guy Chris is, and he's an honest guy. I saw the hit he took, and he lost control a little bit too much, and that's what it's all about," Brashear, now with the Washington Capitals, said after Saturday night's 5-2 loss to the Islanders. "That's where it gets dangerous.

"A guy loses control, and you don't know what's going to happen. We try to stay away from those, and I'm sure after it happened, he looked at himself and said, 'What the hell am I doing?' It looked like he meant to do something else. Sometimes, guys have to pay the price, and I guess he's going to be one of them."