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Islanders' Simon may face criminal charges

Islanders' Simon may face criminal charges

Islanders' Simon may face criminal charges
By Andrew Gross
The (Westchester, N.Y.) Journal News

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — The New York Islanders' Chris Simon may have more to worry about than being indefinitely suspended by the National Hockey League.

The Nassau County District Attorney's office reportedly reviewed footage Friday of Simon striking the New York Rangers' Ryan Hollweg with a vicious, two-handed stick swing in the Rangers' 2-1 win at Nassau Coliseum Thursday night.

While no legal action has been taken against Simon, the NHL moved promptly Friday, suspending him indefinitely without pay pending a hearing due to the match penalty for deliberate intent to injure. No date has been set for the hearing, though it could be as soon as Saturday at the NHL offices in New York or Toronto.

"For sure a suspension is something that should be looked at," Hollweg said Friday after participating in the Rangers' skate at the Madison Square Garden Training Center. "There's no room for that hockey. I don't care who you are. We want to eliminate that stuff as much as possible."

Hollweg, who missed a season due to a head injury before reaching the NHL, reported a sore jaw and a stiff neck but will play Saturday in Pittsburgh.

Hollweg said he counts himself lucky to escape with just a nasty gash on his chin after Simon hit him at 13:29 of the third period. Simon was angered after Hollweg checked him into the boards. Though the hit looked clean, there are reports Simon was tested for a possible concussion Friday.

Simon attended the Islanders' team photo session but left for a doctor's appointment without speaking to the media. His teammates and coaches publicly supported him while refusing to specifically talk about the incident.

Hollweg said neither Simon, nor any other member of the Islanders' organization had contacted him to offer an apology. After the game, Simon simply apologized for costing his team the game — the Rangers scored the game-winner on the ensuing power play — and said he would withhold further comment until speaking to league officials.

Not that an apology would seem to mean much to Hollweg at this point.

"I don't know what kind of guy he is," Hollweg said. "Frankly, for somebody to do that, I don't know what kind of person would do that. I mean, I play the game tough but I can't see myself taking anybody's head off with a stick. There are boundaries and there are lines and he definitely crossed the line."

Simon may be on the same path as Marty McSorley, who hit Donald Brashear over the head with his stick in 2000 and Todd Bertuzzi, who slammed Steve Moore's head into the ice by punching him from behind in 2004. Both McSorley and Bertuzzi were convicted in Canadian courts for their on-ice actions.

Hollweg and Simon were together at the Rangers' training camp prior to the 2003-04 season but Hollweg said he never got to know Simon. Tom Renney started that season as a Rangers' assistant coach before replacing Glen Sather behind the bench.

"Ryan's OK and that's the main thing, we haven't lost an athlete and the game is better for it," Renney said. "Hockey is a spontaneous game. Things happen and good people make mistakes and Chris is a good guy. It was somewhat stunning but it's over with now. We'll leave it at that."

No doubt, Renney has other feelings he does not care to share. Most likely, he wanted to set the tone to his players that they gain nothing by dwelling on their anger toward Simon.

"Last night was a different feeling as far as my emotions than today," said Sean Avery, who challenged the NHL to hand a lengthy suspension to Simon after the game. "If I'm not happy with it, I'm definitely not going to tell you guys."

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