“After completing a thorough review of the on-ice incident, my office has declined to criminally charge New York Islander Chris Simon,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement.
The NHL suspended Simon for his two-handed stick attack to the face of the Ryan Hollweg of the New York Rangers during a March 8 game at the Nassau Coliseum.
Rice said her office considered “the willingness of the potential victim to support a criminal prosecution” and other factors in reaching its decision.
Hollweg, who needed a few stitches on the chin but was not seriously hurt, met with prosecutors from Rice’s office last week but told reporters afterward that he didn’t think Simon should be arrested.
“I think a lot of it was based on the interview they had with me and how I felt about the situation,” Hollweg said Monday before the Rangers faced Pittsburgh. “It’s over now and done with and time to move forward. No one is hurt and we can all move on.
“It’s my opinion and that’s how I wanted to deal with it. There’s certain things you can’t do on the ice. There’s a line that’s drawn and people can cross that line, but in my case, I didn’t want to press charges.”
NHL players twice before have been prosecuted for on-ice incidents. Former Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi pleaded guilty to causing bodily harm and missed 20 games for an attack that left Colorado forward Steve Moore with a broken neck on March 11, 2004. And the Marty McSorley was convicted of assault with a weapon for slashing Vancouver’s Donald Brashear in the head with his stick in February 2000 when he played for the Rangers.
Simon must sit out the rest of the regular season and the post-season, if the club advances. If the Islanders were to play fewer than 10 playoff games, the suspension will carry over to next season. The ban is the longest in terms of games missed in NHL history, and it’s Simon’s sixth suspension.
Simon’s agent was not immediately available for comment.