“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.
“They asked me if I wanted to, but I told them I didn’t want to press charges,” he said. “I’m not happy about what he did, but I want to focus on making the playoffs. I just want to move on.”
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.