“To take away the rest of his regular season would have been plenty enough,” Nolan told newyorkislanders.com Monday. “But to say he can’t be part of the team for the Stanley Cup playoffs does not seem fair.”
Nolan, who also coached Simon with the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds, said he wasn’t defending Simon’s two-handed chop to the face of New York Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg, but said something wasn’t right with Simon. The rugged Islanders winger suffered a concussion after being hit by Hollweg into the glass just before the incident.
“I’ve known Chris since he was a teenager,” Nolan said. “He doesn’t take out personal vendettas when it’s 1-1 with six minutes left in the biggest game of the season against our biggest rival. That’s just not the player or person he is.
“I was thinking (the suspension) would be 12 games. This way Chris would be out for the last two games we have against the Rangers at the Coliseum. Maybe the rest of the regular season. But not beyond that.”
Nolan said Simon was devastated.
“He knows what he did was wrong and we’re all happy the other player (Hollweg) was not injured and returned to the game,” said Nolan. “Chris is going to need some time, but when he’s ready he’ll still be a part of our team. As I said, Chris was very proud to be an Islander this season and he is a very important player for us. He made a mistake, but everyone who cares about this franchise is going to be there for him.”
The Islanders play at Montreal on Tuesday but don’t expect to hear Nolan address the suspension.
“I’ll tell you what: this is the last we’re talking about it,” he said. “The media was here today and we addressed this issue. But this is not going to continue in Canada tomorrow and for the rest of the trip. It’s over today. From now on in, our responsibility is to rally around Chris and win as many games as we can.”