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Islanders' Chris Simon gets one of stiffest suspensions in NHL history

Simon will sit out the remainder of the regular season and all of the playoffs for his stick attack on New York Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg during a game last Thursday, the NHL announced Sunday.

"I think what he got was pretty much expected around the league and by everybody else," Hollweg said after the Rangers' 2-1 win over Carolina on Sunday afternoon. "What's done is done.

"The league has made its decision and it's time to move forward now. I think it's fair."

Simon was not allowed to play Saturday and will miss the Islanders' remaining 14 regular-season games. If the Islanders do not qualify for the playoffs or plays fewer than 10 post-season games, Simon would serve additional games at the start of the 2007-08 season to satisfy the minimum term of the suspension.

"The National Hockey League will not accept the use of a stick in the manner and fashion in which Mr. Simon used his Thursday night," Colin Campbell, NHL senior executive vice-president and director of hockey operations, said in a statement released by the league. "As a consequence of his actions, Mr. Simon has forfeited the privilege of playing in an NHL game again this season, regardless of how many games the Islanders ultimately play."

The suspension will be the longest in terms of NHL games missed in league history.

Under the unlikely scenario of the Islanders going on to win the Stanley Cup while requiring the maximum seven games in each of four rounds to do it, Simon would miss 43 games.

Based on his US$1-million contract, which expires at the conclusion of the season, he forfeits a minimum of 80,213.90. The money goes to the players' emergency assistance fund.

The incident occurred after Hollweg dropped Simon with a clean body check. Simon got up and took a two-handed swing and his stick struck Hollweg's upper body, cutting Hollweg on the chin. Several stitches were required. Simon was assessed a match penalty for deliberate attempt to injure. Hollweg finished that game and has played twice since.

Nassau County prosecutors say they are reviewing video of the Thursday incident to deterine if they'll lay criminal charges.

Because Simon can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, so he might never pull on an Islanders sweater again. The last time he put on his uniform was Friday when the annual team photo was snapped.

Campbell held a 90-minute hearing with Simon in New York on Saturday. Simon had been suspended indefinitely Friday pending a ruling. Simon had been suspended by the NHL five times previously.

Simon issued a statement Saturday night saying he'd watched a video of the Thursday incident and that he was "disgusted" by what he saw.

"There is absolutely no place in hockey for what I did," he said.

He apologized to Hollweg, a 23-year-old Californian, saying his hope was to "reach out to him in the near future." He also apologized to his team and to the league. The Rangers scored a power-play goal during his penalty to earn a 2-1 victory.

"What you saw Thursday is not the person, player and competitor that I am," he stated. "I now my teammates and opponents over my 14 years in the NHL understand that."

Simon added that he was "competely out of it" when he got up after being checked by Hollweg. He underwent physical tests Friday and said he'd suffered a concussion when he hit the boards. Team doctors told him he should not travel.

Regardless, Simon lost control and now suffers the consequences.

The hit on Hollweg was the last straw for the NHL. Campbell had suspended New Jersey's Cam Janssen a week ago for three games for a late hit on Toronto's Tomas Kaberle, who remains out of the Leafs' lineup.

The Islanders began the day seventh in the Eastern Conference, three points above the playoff cutoff.

"Chris Simon has played a major role in our success this season and we will miss his presence in our lineup," Islanders GM Garth Snow said in a statement Sunday. "His regret is clearly evident in the statement he released (Saturday).

"Our entire organization supports Chris every step of the way."

Simon had 10 goals, 17 assists and 75 minutes in penalties in 67 games this season.

Rangers coach Tom Renney would not comment on the length of the suspension.

"The two things for me that are most important are that Ryan is OK and able to play, and Chris, for me anyway, is a good man," said Renney. "He's had to pay the price, and that's appropriate.

"I think it needs to be a message that's loud and clear, of course. We all have to move forward and learn what we can from it."

Marty McSorley, then with Boston, missed 23 games after being suspended for the balance of the regular season in February 2000 for a stick attack on Donald Brashear, then with Vancouver. McSorley was banned for a year, but never appeared in another NHL game.

Gordie Dwyer also missed 23 games after a September 2000 suspension, He was playing for Tampa Bay when he abused officials and returned to the ice from the penalty box to fight in an exhibition game against Washington.

Todd Bertuzzi, then with Vancouver, sat out the rest of the season for jumping Colorado's Steve Moore from behind in March 2004. Bertuzzi missed 13 regular-season games and the Canucks' seven playoff games, and he was prevented from playing anywhere during the 2004-05 lockout. He had been suspended indefinitely and was eventually reinstated by commissioner Gary Bettman.

Dale Hunter, then with Washington, was suspended for the first 21 regular-season games of the 1993-94 season for a hit on Pierre Turgeon, then with the Islanders, following a Turgeon goal during the 1993 playoffs.


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