National Hockey League suspends Simon for season

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Chris Simon of the New York Islanders.

The National Hockey League (NHL) has handed down a season-long suspension, including the playoffs, to Chris Simon of the New York Islanders. The suspension, for a minimum of 25 games, is a ruling for a hit Simon laid on Ryan Hollweg of the New York Rangers during a March 8 game at Nassau Veterans' Memorial Coliseum.

In a press release earlier today, the NHL indicated that they considered Simon's hit on Hollweg, with a stick to the face, to be a deliberate intent to injure. "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, NHL Senior Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations.

The incident occurred at 13:29 of the third period. After receiving a hard check from Hollweg, Simon swung his stick and delivered a two-handed blow to Hollweg's upper body, causing a cut on Hollweg's chin. Simon was assessed a match penalty.

Based on his $1-million contract, which expires at the conclusion of the 2006-07 season, Simon forfeits a minimum of $80,213.90. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

The suspension could carry over into the 2007-2008 hockey season, depending on how far the Islanders advance into the playoffs. According to the NHL press release, if the Islanders do not qualify for the 2007 playoffs, or play fewer than 10 playoff games in the 2007 playoffs, Simon would serve additional games at the start of the 2007-08 regular season to satisfy the minimum term of the suspension.

Garth Snow, General Manager of the Islanders, indicated his support for Simon in a brief press release. "I spoke with Colin Campbell this morning and he informed me of his decision. Chris Simon has played a major role in our success this season and we will miss his presence in our lineup. His regret is clearly evident in the statement he released last night. Our entire organization supports Chris every step of the way."

In a statement March 10, prior to the verdict, Simon expressed regret for his actions. "After watching the tape the morning after Thursday's game, I was disgusted. There is absolutely no place in hockey for what I did. I want to apologize to Ryan Hollweg. I was grateful to learn that Ryan is okay and that he returned to the game. My hope is to reach out to him in the near future."

Simon explains that his behavior may have been influenced by a hit he received less than a minute before his stick swinging incident. "I do not remember much about Thursday's incident. When I saw the tape on Friday morning, it explained a lot to me when I saw the look on my face after being hit into the boards. I was completely out of it."

Simon didn't appear to let it excuse his hit on Hollweg. "I need to make clear that this is not justification for the danger I put Ryan Hollweg in and the damage I have caused the game. I understand disciplinary action will be taken."

The Associated Press indicated that criminal charges against Simon are being considered. According to a spokesperson for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, "no decision has been reached" on bringing charges, but that "prosecutors would review the tape."