Simon suspended minimum of 25 games

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

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.

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.

"I think what he got was pretty much expected around the league
and by everybody else," Hollweg said Sunday after the Rangers' 2-1
win over Carolina. "What's done is done. The league has made its
decision and it's time to move forward now. I think it's fair."

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.

Over the years, the NHL has tolerated a few too many nasty incidents. It's nice to see that times have changed. Now, at least, we're sure that the league won't tolerate one player trying to decapitate another player with his hockey stick, writes E.J. Hradek. Story

"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, two points
ahead of the Rangers and Carolina at the playoff cutoff. If the
Islanders go 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

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

"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."
-- Rangers coach Tom Renney

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

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

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