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NHL suspends Simon 25 games

Islanders forward gets record punishment for hitting the Rangers' Hollweg with his stick.

March 12, 2007|From the Associated Press

NEW YORK — If Chris Simon plays again for the New York Islanders, or for anyone else in the NHL, it won't be until next season.

And it might not even be on opening night.

The NHL hit back hard Sunday, suspending the rugged Islanders forward for a league-record 25 games. Simon will miss the rest of the regular season and playoffs as punishment for his two-handed stick attack to the face of Ryan Hollweg of the New York Rangers in a 2-1 loss Thursday night.

Simon will miss the Islanders' final 15 regular-season contests and the postseason, if the club gets that far. If the team plays fewer than 10 playoff games this year, the suspension will carry over to next season.

"I think what he got was pretty much expected around the league and by everybody else," Hollweg said Sunday after the Rangers' 2-1 win over Carolina. "What's done is done. The league has made its decision and it's time to move forward now. I think it's fair."

The ban is the longest in terms of games missed in NHL history. Marty McSorley was suspended 23 games in February 2000 for knocking out Donald Brashear with a stick-swinging hit. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman stretched that punishment to one year, and McSorley never played in the league again.

Simon's one-year deal with the Islanders will run out before he is eligible to play again. He can become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Based on Simon's $1-million contract, he will lose at least $80,200 because 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," league disciplinarian Colin Campbell said in a statement. "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 Islanders are seventh in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the Rangers and Carolina at the playoff cutoff. If the Islanders go the distance in all four rounds of best-of-seven series, Simon would miss a total of 43 games.

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