Simon suspended 30 games

The Baltimore Sun

UNIONDALE, N.Y. --To his coach and teammates, Chris Simon isn't the stick-swinging, skate-stomping fiend outsiders view him as.

To the NHL, he is an out-of-control enforcer who keeps pushing the league to never-before-seen heights of discipline.

The New York Islanders forward, who spent seven seasons with the Capitals, was hit with a 30-game suspension yesterday, breaking the mark of 25 he set in March with a ban that stretched into this season.

Simon, on a leave of absence from the team after the Saturday night dustup with the Pittsburgh Penguins' Jarkko Ruutu, will miss more than a third of the season and can't return until Feb. 21 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

With 5:54 left in New York's 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday, Simon drew a match penalty when he pulled out Ruutu's leg with his, sending the forward to his knees between the benches. Simon then stomped on the skate of Ruutu, who wasn't seriously injured.

"Chris is a good, solid guy," teammate Bryan Berard said. "He does have that switch where he can snap, and I think that's why he's been in the league for so long. It's a tough sport."

Simon, 35, left the Islanders on Monday to receive counseling, then met with league disciplinarian Colin Campbell on Tuesday. Campbell had said Simon would receive drug and alcohol treatment, but the NHL later clarified that Simon's treatment simply will take place under the auspices of the league and union's substance-abuse and behavioral program.

Counseling details are kept confidential. Islanders spokesman Chris Botta confirmed drugs and alcohol are "not the issue."

Campbell said the seven previous suspensions in Simon's 15-season NHL career have not been a deterrent.

"I am hoping both the 30 games ... 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 will forfeit $292,683, the league said.

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