Newsday’s Greg Logan on the latest bit of authoritarian harassment to befall Islanders LW Chris Simon.
Sending an obvious message about Chris Simon’s repeated violations of league rules, the NHL today slapped the Islanders enforcer with a record 30-game suspension for trying to injure Pittsburgh’s Jarkko Ruutu by stepping on him with a skate blade Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum.
The penalty surpasses the previous record of 25 games Simon received last March for hitting the Rangers’ Ryan Hollweg in the face with his stick (above). Although Islanders owner Charles Wang moved quickly after the latest incident to force Simon to take a leave of absence from the team to seek counseling, that action did nothing to mitigate the severity of the league’s punishment.
“It’s excessive,” Nolan said Wednesday after the Islanders skated before that night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. “What I think has no bearing on the facts. The league suspended him . . . now we have to support Chris while he goes through this process and give him all the compassion and all the support we can give him as an organization.”
Simon, who was in Toronto for a 30-minute disciplinary hearing with general manager Garth Snow and Campbell on Tuesday, is expected to appeal the sentence. The Islanders already have played 31 games this season, so, Simon would be eligible to return for only the last 21 games of the regular season. His first game back would be against Tampa Bay on Feb. 21 provided he also has reached a point in counseling where it is determined that he is ready to return.
But Simon turns 37 on Jan. 30 and has been largely ineffective this season. Realistically, this latest penalty could spell the end of his 15-season NHL career, even though Wang said that he would have a place on the team later this season.