|Simon leaves Islanders, seeks aid following another penalty for attempt to injure|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 17 December 2007 15:07|
Simon missed the first five games of this season while completing a 25-game ban - his sixth NHL suspension - meted out in March. He could be in line for another long penalty after he took down and stepped on Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruutu last weekend.
``The actions of Chris Simon on Saturday do not reflect what the New York Islanders stand for,'' team owner Charles Wang said in a statement. ``They were reckless, potentially dangerous and against our team concept of grit, character and heart.
``We know Chris as a respected teammate and as a gracious man away from the playing surface and believe strongly that he has earned our continued support. The Islanders are going to provide some time for Chris away from the team and give him the counseling he needs and the compassion he deserves. When Chris is completely ready, he will be a member of our team again.''
Simon met with Wang, general manager Garth Snow and coach Ted Nolan during practice Monday and they agreed the 35-year-old left wing should seek help. That group then spoke with captains Bill Guerin, Mike Sillinger and Brendan Witt and goalie Rick DiPietro before a team discussion.
The NHL hasn't held a disciplinary hearing yet and no announcement on a suspension was expected Monday.
Late in New York's loss to the Penguins, with the Islanders trailing by a goal, Simon drew a match penalty when he pulled out Ruutu's leg with his, sending the forward to his knees between the team benches. Simon then stepped on the back of Ruutu's leg with his skate.
Simon was ejected and the Islanders were left a man short for all but the final 54 seconds of the 3-2 defeat.
``There is no excuse for my actions on Saturday night and I apologize to everyone involved,'' he said in a statement. ``The Islanders and I agree that the right thing to do is for me to take some time away from the team.
``I have enjoyed a long career achieving my dream of being a player in the National Hockey League and I'm proud of my accomplishments. But I acknowledge that time and assistance is needed before I return to the game.''
Simon also apologized last season after he retaliated for a hit from Ryan Hollweg by striking the New York Rangers forward in the face and neck with a two-handed stick swing.
The forward was suspended for the rest of the regular season and all of the playoffs, forced to serve a minimum of 25 games. He missed the remaining five games before the postseason and sat out New York's five-game playoff loss to Buffalo.
Had the Islanders advanced, Simon would have been ineligible to play even if the total games exceeded 25. That wasn't the case, and Simon missed the first five games this season. That ban was the longest in NHL history in terms of games, matched by Philadelphia's Jesse Boulerice this season.
Despite the long ban, the Islanders signed him to a one-year deal this summer for $475,000 and included another $325,000 in potential bonuses.
Simon had 10 goals and 17 assists in 67 games last season, but managed only one goal and two assists in 26 games this season - his 15th in the NHL. He has 51 penalty minutes.
He received a match penalty last season for deliberate attempt to injure when he got up from the ice after being crunched into the boards by Hollweg on March 8.
Simon had 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.
During the 2000 playoffs, Simon, then with Washington, sat out Game 2 after he cross-checked Penguins defenseman Peter Popovic across the throat in the opener.
In April 2001, Simon drew a two-game ban for elbowing Anders Eriksson of Florida. He was given a pair of two-game suspensions in 2004 - for cross-checking Tampa Bay's Ruslan Fedotenko and then jumping on him and punching him, and for kneeing Dallas defenseman Sergei Zubov. Fedotenko and Simon are now Islanders teammates.