The NHL suspended the New York Islanders forward indefinitely Friday pending a hearing with league disciplinarian Colin Campbell. It wasn’t clear just when exactly that hearing would take place because Simon was examined by doctors Friday for an apparent head injury suffered during Thursday’s game. But sources said the hearing would likely happen Saturday.
“He’s suspended indefinitely pending a hearing, I can’t say anything else,” Campbell told The Canadian Press on Friday.
Simon struck New York Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg in the face with his stick in a game Thursday night. The hit flattened Hollweg with 6:31 remaining and left him motionless on his stomach for several minutes in the Rangers’ zone.
Simon was immediately ejected from the game, slapped with a match penalty for deliberate attempt to injure.
Hollweg recovered and needed only a few stitches to repair a cut on his chin. He did not return to the game but did practise Friday with the Rangers.
The ugly hit conjured memories of the shot Marty McSorley landed to the head of Donald Brashear seven years ago. McSorley was suspended for the final 23 games in the 2000 season for knocking out Brashear with a swinging stick. The ban was extended until February 2001 by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, and McSorley never played in the league again.
“You can compare to maybe the McSorley hit on Brashear,” Toronto Maple Leafs tough guy Wade Belak said Friday after practice. “If he’d have hit him a little higher it could have been different. It’s a good thing he wasn’t hurt. He’s obviously going to get a hefty suspension.”
Added Belak: “Any time you two-hand a guy in the face, it’s not good. There’s risk of eye injury, jaw, teeth, whatever. It just looked ugly. It looked a lot worse than, obviously, he didn’t get an injury but at the same time it’s stuff you don’t want to see. Stuff like that doesn’t happen too often.”
Bertuzzi missed the final 13 regular-season games and the playoffs because of his blindside punch to the head of Colorado’s Steve Moore on March 11, 2004. But the banishment was extended to 17 months and prevented him from playing anywhere during the yearlong NHL lockout.
He was reinstated by Bettman before the 2005-06 season.
Leafs head coach Paul Maurice said fortunately incidents like this don’t happen very often anymore in the NHL.
“I don’t know that we’re seeing that more than we did in the past,” said Maurice. “As a matter of fact, I think that’s almost gone from the game. I know we hear this a lot, ‘The players don’t respect each other.’ I’m not sure that’s true. I just think that clearly because it happens so little now that when it does, and I don’t think it’s overblown, it’s just that there’s lot of attention paid to it.
“This is going to sound way off the wall but I’m not sure the death penalty lowers the crime rate. Somebody will argue for and against that but I do think . . . I don’t think he thinks about it before he did what he did. I don’t think he says, ‘Well, geez, I might get 50 or I might get 2 or 3.’ I don’t think it happens like that. I think that every 1,000 games or so somebody absolutely loses their thought process and it happens.”
Leafs defenceman Ian White disagreed with the notion that incidents like this show players don’t respect each other.
“I think there’s a lot of respect (between players),” White said. “Sometimes I guess guys just lose their cool and something they wouldn’t normally do. It happens in your daily life, too. It’s unfortunate but I don’t think it’s happening all the time where you have to throw red flags or anything.”