<
>

Simon suspended indefinitely for retaliatory hit

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Chris Simon met with NHL disciplinarian
Colin Campbell on Saturday, then waited to find out how long he
will be suspended for his vicious two-handed stick attack to the
face of Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg.

The NHL said it won't announce the length of Simon's
suspension Saturday night.

The New York Islanders forward, suspended indefinitely Friday
for his retaliatory hit against Hollweg the night before, attended
a disciplinary hearing at the league office in Manhattan along with
representatives from the team and the NHL players' association.

There was no immediate announcement of how many games Simon will
miss. He was given a match penalty Thursday for deliberate attempt
to injure, and now is awaiting the consequences.

"There is absolutely no place in hockey for what I did," Simon
said in a statement released by the team during the first period of
the Islanders' game against Washington on Saturday night. "What
you saw Thursday is not the person, player and competitor that I
am. I know my teammates and opponents over my 14 years in the NHL
understand that."

Adding further intrigue, Simon said he was diagnosed Friday with
a concussion as a result of Hollweg's hit that drove him into the
boards. His inability to fly made it necessary for Campbell to come
to New York for the hearing instead of holding it in Toronto.

"I do not remember much about Thursday's incident," Simon
said. "When I saw the tape on Friday morning, it explained a lot
to me when I saw the look on my face after being hit into the
boards. I was completely out of it. When I met with the media about
30 minutes later, I still was not feeling well."

Hollweg took a few stitches in the chin, but was not seriously
hurt. Simon likely will be feeling the sting of his actions for
quite some time.

The suspension could be as long as those given to Todd Bertuzzi
and Marty McSorley following their violent infractions that also
gave a black eye to hockey. The Islanders have 15 regular-season
games left, and might be without Simon for those and the playoffs
should the team qualify.

Simon also might face legal troubles in New York.

A spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice
said Friday that "no decision has been reached" about whether to
bring charges against Simon.

"We are going to review the tape," spokesman Eric Phillips
said.

This marked the sixth suspension Simon has been given by the
league, which could work against him when the punishment is meted
out.

Simon was ejected from the Islanders' 2-1 loss with 6:31
remaining in what was a tie game. The ensuing major power play
resulted in Petr Prucha's decisive goal.

Hollweg drove Simon into the boards with an unpenalized hit.
Simon got up angrily and met him as they came together again,
connecting with a swinging motion near Hollweg's chin and neck.
Hollweg fell to his back and rolled over onto his stomach by the
boards.

He was motionless for a few moments, and was bleeding from the
chin when he got up. Yet, he was well enough to practice with the
Rangers on Friday and was in the lineup Saturday for New York's
game at Pittsburgh.

"Since Ryan is thankfully okay, what hurts the most is knowing
my actions will result in me losing the privilege of being in the
Islanders lineup," Simon said in the statement. "I want to thank
my Islanders teammates for their support throughout this process.
It means everything to me."

If history is any indicator, Simon could be shelved for a long
time.

McSorley was suspended for the final 23 games of the 2000 season
for knocking out Donald Brashear with a swinging stick. The ban was
extended until February 2001 by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, and
McSorley never played in the NHL again.

Bertuzzi missed the final 13 regular-season games and the
playoffs because of his blindside punch to the head of Colorado's
Steve Moore on March 11, 2004. But the banishment was extended to
17 months and prevented him from playing anywhere during the
yearlong NHL lockout.

He was reinstated by Bettman before the 2005-06 season.

McSorley and Bertuzzi both were charged by Vancouver authorities
for their attacks. Bertuzzi pleaded guilty to causing bodily harm,
and McSorley was convicted of assault with a weapon.

Simon was suspended four other times for violent on-ice acts and
received a three-game ban in 1997 after directing a racial slur
toward player Mike Grier, who is black.

During the playoffs in 2000, Simon sat out Game 2 of a series
against Pittsburgh after he cross-checked Penguins defenseman Peter
Popovic across the throat in the opener while with Washington.

In April 2001, Simon received a two-game ban for elbowing Anders
Eriksson of Florida. He then was given a pair of two-game
suspensions in 2004 -- for cross-checking Tampa Bay's Ruslan
Fedotenko and then jumping on him and punching him, and for kneeing
Dallas defenseman Sergei Zubov.

Simon, a veteran of 14 NHL seasons, signed a one-year, $1
million contract with the Islanders last summer. That reunited him
with Nolan, who was Simon's coach during his final year of junior
hockey and took over behind the New York bench this season.