Simon's silence speaks volumes

SCOTT MORRISON

, Last Updated: 10:41 AM ET

Of all the people who have weighed in with an opinion of whether a 30-game suspension given to Chris Simon was too much, just right, or not stiff enough, perhaps the most important voice still has not been heard.

That would be Chris Simon's.

To his credit, Simon, who yesterday was given the longest suspension in NHL history for a kicking/stomping incident with Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jarkko Ruutu on Saturday night, has admitted in a prepared statement that there is no excuse for what he did and that he requires some form of counselling.

That is all very positive, but it also is not enough.

In many ways, Simon's contrition has been muted because you can't put a face to it, you can't hear the voice, you can't fully appreciate the depth to which he feels that guilt and wants that help. As a result, it is hard to conjure up any sympathy, if you believe any is deserved.

And when a person declares he needs help, as repugnant -- as NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell put it, the incident was -- there almost becomes a secondary victim in the case, but a distant second.

If Simon was waiting for Campbell to issue his penalty before talking, then fine. But he should speak up and talk about it and perhaps even declare what he thinks of the suspension. That, in itself, will be revealing. Or, are the whispers of a forthcoming appeal true, which would also be quite telling?

If memory serves, when Simon was suspended last spring, that one a 25-game hiatus for a two-handed stick to the face of New York Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg, there was a prepared statement and apology but no public comment, at least not for the longest while.

Maybe after eight career suspensions for a total of 70 games (including 55 games over the past two seasons, numbers usually associated with the Philadelphia Flyers) he owes it to the league, to his team, to the fans and ultimately himself to let us see just how sincere he really is. Todd Bertuzzi did it. Others have done it.

As for the number 30, it is obviously significant. Too high? No. Campbell had no alternative other than to raise the bar from the last suspension of 25 games, which obviously didn't inspire any behavioural alterations or improvements.

Too low? Some would argue as many as 51 games, or the remainder of the season, would have been appropriate.

Just right? What number is the right number? Obviously, there hasn't been a suspension that has proven to be a sufficient deterrent for Simon, although it can be argued that the increase in severity of the penalties has helped reduce the number of incidents in the league.

In this case, the fact that Simon seemingly had no provocation, that he had time to think about what he might do, then do it, that it is an absolutely hideous act to stomp another player with a razor sharp blade, all make it worse than past acts of indiscretion and thus deserving of a stiffer penalty, regardless of whether there was injury.

In the words of the Islanders, it was reckless and potentially dangerous.

"While fortunate, Mr. Ruutu suffered no serious injury as a result of Chris Simon's actions, the deliberate act of kicking an opponent with a skate blade, especially when that opponent is in a vulnerable position, is and always has been a repugnant and totally unacceptable act in the game of hockey," Campbell said. "In addition, while the act itself was extremely dangerous, the fact that this is the eighth incident requiring the imposition of supplementary discipline on Simon compelled me to impose a very severe penalty in this case."

If Simon is sincere about the counselling, and there is no reason to believe he isn't, then two months hopefully will be an adequate time for him to find the answers he requires because, as Islanders general manager Garth Snow said, the focus should be on the person, not the player.

He has, after all, lost the privilege of being a player.

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NHL'S LONGEST SUSPENSIONS

30 games -- Chris Simon, New York Islanders, Dec. 19, 2007, for slamming his skate into the foot of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jarkko Ruutu.

25 games -- Jesse Boulerice, Philadelphia, Oct. 12, 2007, for cross-checking Vancouver centre Ryan Kesler across the face in a game on Oct. 10.

25 games -- Chris Simon, New York Islanders, March 11, 2007, for the rest of the regular season (15 games) and playoffs for his two-handed stick attack to the face of New York Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg. Since Islanders played only five playoff games, suspension extended to first five games of 2007-08.

23 games -- Marty McSorley, Boston, Feb. 2000, for knocking out Vancouver's Donald Brashear with a stick-swinging hit. On Nov. 7, 2000, the suspension was extended by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to Feb. 20, 2001.

23 games -- Gordie Dwyer, Tampa Bay, Sept. 19, 2000, for abusing officials and coming out of the penalty box to fight in an exhibition game against Washington.

21 games -- Dale Hunter, Washington, May 1993, for a blindside check of Pierre Turgeon of the N.Y. Islanders after a goal in a playoff game.

20 games -- Steve Downie, Philadelphia, Sept. 28, 2007, for leaving his feet to deliver a deliberate hit to the head Ottawa forward Dean McAmmond in a pre-season game Sept. 25.

20 games -- Todd Bertuzzi, Vancouver, March 11, 2004, for his sucker-punch of Colorado forward Steve Moore on March 8. Bertuzzi's suspension was for 13 regular season games, plus playoffs. Bertuzzi was reinstated 17 months later, after the year-long lockout.

20 games -- Tom Lysiak, Chicago, Oct. 1983, for intentionally tripping a linesman.

20 games -- Brad May, Phoenix, Nov. 15, 2000, for hitting Columbus' Steve Heinze on the nose with his stick in a game on Nov. 11.


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