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Islanders trade Simon and Bergeron, sign Comrie to 1-year deal

UNIONDALE, N.Y. - The New York Islanders traded troubled forward Chris Simon to the Minnesota Wild for a sixth-round pick in this year's draft.

Dealing Simon just before the NHL trade deadline Tuesday ended his eventful two-year stay with the Islanders. He missed 35 games this season while serving a pair of long suspensions.

The Islanders also dealt defenceman Marc-Andre Bergeron to the Anaheim Ducks for a third-round choice in the upcoming draft. That capped a busy day during which the team also signed leading scorer Mike Comrie to a one-year, US$4 million deal.

Simon returned last week from a 30-game suspension for his skate stomp to the leg of Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruutu in December. He played two games before being traded. In 28 games this season, Simon had a goal, two assists and 43 penalty minutes.

His departure cleared a spot for forward Jeff Tambellini to return from Bridgeport of the AHL and reunite with Frans Nielsen and Blake Comeau on the Islanders' "Kid Line."

"A new lease on life for Chris and a little bit of a change of scenery," Islanders general manager Garth Snow said. "But for us to get the opportunity to get another young player in the lineup was a major factor."

Simon declined to talk to reporters as he walked out of Nassau Coliseum with his son and equipment in tow.

The most recent sanction for Simon from the NHL was the longest in terms of games handed down by the league for an on-ice incident. It topped the record-setting, 25-gamer he received last season and completed during this campaign.

Simon sought counselling within the behavioural health program run jointly by the NHL and the players' association.

It marked the eighth time in Simon's 15-season NHL career he has been suspended by the league. This penalty was especially severe because of Simon's violent history and the fact it came so soon after the long ban he received following his two-handed, stick-swinging attack to the head of New York Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg during a home game last season.

Simon, 36, was suspended last March for 25 games - 15 regular-season games, a five-game playoff series loss to Buffalo, and five games to open this season.

"We wish him well," coach Ted Nolan said. "Bergeron is getting a fresh start going to Anaheim with a chance to win the Stanley Cup. It's good for those guys."

Bergeron, who had fallen out of favour with Islanders coach Ted Nolan, became expendable even for the injury-depleted Islanders defence when New York acquired Rob Davison from the San Jose Sharks for a seventh-round pick in the upcoming draft earlier Tuesday.

New York recently got Bruno Gervais back in the lineup, and hard-hitting Brendan Witt is expected to return soon from a knee injury. Andy Sutton is out for quite some time due to a torn hamstring.

With all that, the Islanders began the day just two points out of an Eastern Conference playoff spot. After getting Comrie re-signed in the morning, New York decided to hold onto potential unrestricted free agents Miroslav Satan, Ruslan Fedotenko and Josef Vasicek.

Snow said Satan was never asked to waive the no-trade clause in his contract.

"We're right in the thick of a playoff race here," Snow said. "Our players have played hard and deserve the opportunity to keep playing.

"I don't like buying or selling. It's building and executing a plan we've set forth on how to build a Stanley Cup champion team."

Comrie, who leads the Islanders with 45 points in his first season on Long Island, joined the team along with captain Bill Guerin last summer. He could've hit the open market again in July had he not come to terms to stay for another season.

Without the contract extension, Comrie also would have been a prime candidate to be traded Tuesday.

Comrie, 27, hasn't missed a game this season and has posted 18 goals - second only to Guerin - and a team-high 27 assists. His original contract with the Islanders pays him $3.375 million.

"Some guys want the security. Some guys want the challenge," Comrie said of the one-year deal. "With the new CBA, short-term is just as good as long-term, in my mind, for both sides. I'm happy with it.

"Just because I signed a one-year deal doesn't mean I won't be here longer."


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