Chris Simon draws 30-game suspension, longest in NHL history
UNIONDALE, N.Y. – New York Islanders forward Chris Simon was banned for 30 games Wednesday, drawing the longest suspension in NHL history again.Simon’s latest infraction was stepping on Pittsburgh’s Jarkko Ruutu with his skate during a game last weekend.The 35-year-old player went on a leave of absence Monday to receive counseling, then met with league disciplinarian Colin Campbell on Tuesday. Campbell said Simon also will receive drug and alcohol treatment, although he did not elaborate. Simon struggled with alcohol during his days as a junior player.Campbell said Simon’s six prior suspensions have not been a deterrent.”I am hoping both the 30 games, which takes him to the end of February, and the actual help he’s going to get and counseling he’s going to get … will help Chris and deal with the problem he has,” Campbell added.Simon missed the first five games of this season while completing a 25-game ban handed out in March, which had been the previous record for an NHL suspension.Simon agreed he needed time away from hockey after he stomped on Ruutu’s foot with his skate blade during a 3-2 loss to the Penguins on Saturday. He drew a match penalty when he pulled out Ruutu’s leg with his, sending the forward to his knees between the team benches. He then stepped on the back of Ruutu’s leg with his skate, and was ejected.”It’s not something that happened, like we always say a hockey play gone bad,” Campbell said. “This was something totally away from the play and had nothing to do with the play or the game of hockey.”On March 11, Simon was suspended 25 games – 15 regular-season games, five playoff games, and five games to open this season – for his two-handed stick attack to the face of New York Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg.”We now had a greater responsibility in protecting players down the road on the ice that Chris was playing with,” Campbell said. “Coaches and managers have said about Chris that he is a great guy – off the ice. Now we’re concerned about what’s next.”Simon met with Islanders owner Charles Wang, general manager Garth Snow and Nolan during practice Monday and they agreed he should seek help.He was to be paid during his time away from the club, but now with the suspension, Simon will forfeit $292,683.”It’s excessive,” Nolan said Wednesday after the Islanders skated before that night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. “What I think has no bearing on the facts. The league suspended him … Now we have to support Chris while he goes through this process and give him all the compassion and all the support we can give him as an organization.”
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