The hit, which conjured memories of the shot Marty McSorley landed to the head of Donald Brashear seven years ago, 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. While Hollweg recovered quickly and needed only a few stitches to repair a cut on his chin, Simon will likely feel the sting of his actions for quite some time.
“I think I’ll wait until I talk to the league office, and then I’ll answer all questions afterward,” Simon said after his penalty led to the deciding goal in the Islanders’ 2-1 loss. “I’ve always been known as a team guy, and I feel real bad about letting the team down.”
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.
Vancouver’s Todd 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.
“I think that’s just as bad as what Marty McSorley did to Brashear,” Rangers agitator Sean Avery said of Simon. “You can’t just two-hand a guy in the face with your stick.”
NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell, a former coach of the Rangers, recently handed down a three-game suspension to New Jersey’s Cam Janssen. Janssen landed a late hit last week on Toronto defenceman Tomas Kaberle, checking him headfirst into the boards.
“Let’s just see if Colin Campbell finally does something about this stuff and doesn’t give him three games like he gave that other meathead from New Jersey,” Avery said.
The Rangers made Simon and the Islanders pay right away when Petr Prucha scored the tiebreaking goal with 5:14 left, just 1:17 into the power play.
“The best retaliation is to score on that power play,” Hollweg said. “I couldn’t feel any better than when that puck went in.”
Hollweg took a few stitches and had his face numbed, but expects to play Saturday when the Rangers visit Pittsburgh.
“I feel good,” he said. “We got the win. I kind of lost my hearing for a bit after it happened. I might’ve been out for a second or two. The pain goes away when you get those two points.”
Just seconds before he was hit, Hollweg drove Simon into the boards with a hard, clean check. Simon got up angrily and met Hollweg as they came together again. Hollweg fell to his back and rolled over onto his stomach by the boards.
“I just finished my check on the half wall,” Hollweg said. “I think he was a little fazed by it. I turned around, and the next thing I knew he’s winding up and hitting me in the face.”
That ended the night for Simon, who scored the Islanders’ lone goal.
“I didn’t really have time to react to it,” Hollweg said. “It’s scary to your health but in the back of my mind I couldn’t believe he did it.”