NHL sticks Simon hard

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

By handing out one of the stiffest suspensions in league history to the New York Islanders' Chris Simon yesterday, the NHL served notice that swinging your stick like Barry Bonds does with a bat in the on-deck circle simply won't be tolerated.

Simon has been banned for a minimum of 25 games for nailing the New York Rangers' Ryan Hollweg in the face Thursday night, a stiff punishment that should act as a wake-up call for those about to snap in a similiar fashion out on the ice.

"Let's hope so," deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an e-mail last night, summing up the feelings of the league office.

Give league disciplinarian Colin Campbell credit for acting both fairly and harshly in delivering the sentence to Simon, who will sit out the Isles' remaining 14 regular season games and any subsequent playoff games. If the Isles do not reach the post-season or play fewer than 10 playoff games, Simon would serve additional games at the beginning of the 2007-08 regular season that would run the total to a minimum of 25.

"The National Hockey League will not accept the use of a stick in the manner and fashion in which Mr. Simon used his Thursday night," Campbell said in a statement.

The suspension will be the longest in terms of NHL games missed in league history. Should the Isles play four seven-game series in the playoffs, the suspension would add up to 43 games.

"I think Chris Simon is a good man, a decent guy ... (but) at the same time, he lost it and put a guy's life in jeopardy," Rangers coach Tom Renney said after his team's 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes yesterday afternoon. "The punishment probably fits the crime."

Hollweg is just relieved not to have suffered any severe injuries from the incident.

"He pretty much got what the media has been predicting the past few days, so I don't think this was unexpected," Hollweg said.

"I think it's fair. What's done is done. Now it's time to move on."

Nassau County prosecutors are reviewing evidence in order to decide if criminal charges will be laid.

"Chris Simon has played a major role in our success this season and we will miss his presence in the lineup," Isles GM Garth Snow said in a statement yesterday, adding that "our entire organization supports Chris every step of the way."

The Boston Bruins' Marty McSorley was suspended for 23 games 2000 for clunking Vancouver's Donald Breashear in the head with a stick. Tampa Bay's Gord Dwyer also received 23 games that same year for abusing officials and for exiting the penalty box to fight in an exhibition game against Washington.

McSorley will forfeit a minimum $80,213.90 to the players' emergency assistance fund as part of the supension.


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