TAMPA -- As a fellow member of the enforcer fraternity, Wade Belak agrees that the National Hockey League needed to crack down hard on the New York Islanders' Chris Simon "for snapping."
In his role as the Maple Leafs resident pugilist, Belak feels there is no place in the game for using a skate blade to stomp another player's leg the way Simon did to Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruutu, an unacceptable act that landed Simon an NHL-record 30-game suspension Wednesday.
"I know he regrets it but, obviously, he snapped and now he's paying the price," Belak said yesterday. "He's been suspended seven times now. That's a lot of lost salary.
"The NHL is cracking down and I can understand that, but it's not just the league. The players feel that way too. We're fed up with guys not being accountable, and I'm a guy that has had his share of fines and suspensions.
"No one likes dishing out salary. I don't care who you are."
It is obvious that Belak disagrees with Simon's act. In Belak's mind, Simon crossed a line.
At the same time, he can understand Simon's frustrations with a super pest such as Ruutu. According to Belak, the presence of the controversial instigators rule allows players like Ruutu to take runs at skilled players without the fear of retribution.
"That's some of it," Belak said. "Look at the guys Simon has gone after, guys like Ruutu and (the New York Rangers') Ryan Hollweg. Both are agitators.
"I'm sure Ruutu probably got under (Simon's) skin and egged him on."