New York Islanders’ Chris Simon was put on paid leave from the team on Monday following his attempt to injure Jarrko Ruutu in the Islanders’ loss to the Penguins on Saturday night. The action was taken after a meeting between Simon and Islanders’ team management, and before league officials meet to decide on likely suspension actions. Simon missed the first 5-games of the season to finish out a 25-game ban that was levied in March 07 after Simon struck New York Rangers’ forward Ryan Hollweg in the face and neck with a two-handed stick swing. That ban was his sixth suspension from the league, and was the harshest ban handed down by the league to date.
With 6-minutes to go in New York’s loss to the Penguins, Simon used his leg to trip Ruutu along the boards sending him to his knees, and then stepped on the back of Ruutu’s leg with his skate. The dangerous action and obvious intent to injure drew a match penalty which will force an automatic league review. The NHL hasn’t scheduled a disciplinary hearing yet, but is likely that they will deal another lengthy suspension to Simon. “He understands what he did, we all do,” said teammate Bill Guerin, “There’ll be consequences, and that’s not for us to decide, but we’re here to support him and to make sure things get straightened out.”
Simon met with Islanders’ owner Charles Wang, GM Garth Snow and coach Ted Nolan during Monday’s practice and concluded that he should take some time away from the game and seek help. The nature of the help was not disclosed, but it seems improbable to affect a player who by all counts had hit rock bottom after the incident with Hollweg. “We discussed the measures we have to take,” Nolan said. “Chris is very remorseful and very sorry for his actions. As an organization, we don’t condone it. We don’t appreciate the thing he did. On the flip side, we have to have some compassion, some understanding and some support.”
VIDEO: Islanders Team Press Conference - Ted Nolan, Bill Guerin and Brendan Witt react
While their motivation may be unclear, the move by the Islanders was the right one to make for the safety of opposing players and Chris Simon alike. There is no place in hockey for someone who has shown no ability to control his actions on the ice. Hockey is a dangerous enough sport when you have responsible players on the ice. Responsible players compete hard, but respect other players and are mindful of the damage that can be done with an errant stick or misplaced skate blade. Chris Simon has repeatedly shown that he has little regard for his fellow hockey players by using his hockey gear as weaponry. When you take a two-handed swing into another guys face with a hockey stick and intentionally step on the leg of another player with a razor sharp skate blade, you do not belong on the ice. He could have easily killed Hollweg and ended Ruutu’s skating career with his actions. Remorse after the fact buys no sympathy for Chris Simon. I hope that his leave from hockey is lengthy, and followed up by an even lengthier suspension by the league.