The New York Islanders’ forward, suspended indefinitely Friday for his retaliatory hit against Hollweg the night before, attended a disciplinary hearing at the league office in Manhattan along with representatives from the team and the NHL players’ association.
There was no immediate announcement of how many games Simon will miss. He was given a match penalty Thursday for deliberate attempt to injure, and now is awaiting the consequences.
“There is absolutely no place in hockey for what I did,” Simon said in a statement released by the team during the first period of the Islanders’ game against Washington on Saturday night. “What you saw Thursday is not the person, player and competitor that I am. I know my teammates and opponents over my 14 years in the NHL understand that.”
Adding further intrigue, Simon said he was diagnosed Friday with a concussion as a result of Hollweg’s hit that drove him into the boards. His inability to fly made it necessary for Campbell to come to New York for the hearing instead of holding it in Toronto.
“I do not remember much about Thursday’s incident,” Simon said. “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. When I met with the media about 30 minutes later, I still was not feeling well.”
Hollweg took a few stitches in the chin, but was not seriously hurt. Simon likely will be feeling the sting of his actions for quite some time.
The suspension could be as long as those given to Todd Bertuzzi and Marty McSorley following their violent infractions that also gave a black eye to hockey. The Islanders have 15 regular-season games left, and might be without Simon for those and the playoffs should the team qualify.
Simon also might face legal troubles in New York.
A spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said Friday that “no decision has been reached” about whether to bring charges against Simon.
“We are going to review the tape,” spokesman Eric Phillips said.
Don Cherry spoke out against the hit Saturday night on his Coach’s Corner segment.
“There’s no excuse for it, there’s absolutely no excuse for it,” the popular Hockey Night in Canada commentator said. “I cannot ever make an excuse for a guy using his stick, and he should be disgusted with himself.”
This marked the sixth suspension Simon has been given by the league, which could work against him when the punishment is meted out.
Simon was ejected from the Islanders’ 2-1 loss with 6:31 remaining in what was a tie game. The ensuing major power play resulted in Petr Prucha’s decisive goal.
Hollweg drove Simon into the boards with an unpenalized hit. Simon got up angrily and met him as they came together again, connecting with a swinging motion near Hollweg’s chin and neck. Hollweg fell to his back and rolled over onto his stomach by the boards.
He was motionless for a few moments, and was bleeding from the chin when he got up. Yet, he was well enough to practise with the Rangers on Friday and was in the lineup Saturday for New York’s game at Pittsburgh.
“Since Ryan is thankfully okay, what hurts the most is knowing my actions will result in me losing the privilege of being in the Islanders lineup,” Simon said in the statement. “I want to thank my Islanders teammates for their support throughout this process. It means everything to me.”
If history is any indicator, Simon could be shelved for a long time.
McSorley was suspended for the final 23 games of the 2000 season for knocking out Donald Brashear with a swinging stick. The ban was extended until February 2001 by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, and McSorley never played in the NHL again.
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 year-long NHL lockout.
He was reinstated by Bettman before the 2005-06 season.
McSorley and Bertuzzi both were charged by Vancouver authorities for their attacks. Bertuzzi pleaded guilty to causing bodily harm, and McSorley was convicted of assault with a weapon.
Simon was 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 playoffs in 2000, Simon sat out Game 2 of a series against Pittsburgh after he cross-checked Penguins defenceman Peter Popovic across the throat in the opener while with Washington.
In April 2001, Simon received a two-game ban for elbowing Anders Eriksson of Florida. He then 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 defenceman Sergei Zubov.
Simon, a veteran of 14 NHL seasons, signed a US$1-million, one-year contract with the Islanders last summer. That reunited him with Nolan, who was Simon’s coach during his final year of junior hockey and took over behind the New York bench this season.