Nolan thought Simon would only miss 12 games

Updated: March 12, 2007, 9:15 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Just days after saying he was disappointed in Chris Simon's hit on Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg, Islanders coach Ted Nolan came to his winger's defense on Monday.

Nolan said he believed Simon's record suspension of a minimum 25 games was too harsh.

"To take away the rest of his regular season would have been plenty enough," Nolan was quoted as saying on the Islanders' official Web site Monday. "But to say he can't be part of the team for the Stanley Cup playoffs does not seem fair.

"I've known Chris since he was a teenager," Nolan added. "He doesn't take out personal vendettas when it's 1-1 with six minutes left in the biggest game of the season against our biggest rival. That's just not the player or person he is.

"I was thinking [the suspension] would be 12 games. This way, Chris would be out for the last two games we have against the Rangers at the Coliseum. Maybe the rest of the regular season. But not beyond that."

Simon will miss the rest of the regular season and playoffs as punishment for his two-handed stick attack to the face of Hollweg during last Thursday's game between the Atlantic rival Islanders and Rangers.

Simon will miss the Islanders' final 15 regular-season contests and the entire 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.

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.

"He knows what he did was wrong and we're all happy [Hollweg] was not injured and returned to the game," Nolan was quoted as saying. "Chris is going to need some time, but when he's ready, he'll still be a part of our team. As I said, Chris was very proud to be an Islander this season and he is a very important player for us. He made a mistake, but everyone who cares about this franchise is going to be there for him.

"I'll tell you what -- this is the last we're talking about it," he added. "The media was here today and we addressed this issue."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.