Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Islanders aim for redemption against Sabres

A week ago, the Islanders fell to the Sabres up in Buffalo 5-3. Tonight, Ted Nolan's club looks for a little redemption when they play host to Lindy Ruff's club at the Coliseum.

They'll be without the services of enforcer Chris Simon for a while due to his latest stupidity. The same player who used his stick like a baseball bat and connected with Ranger forward Ryan Hollweg during a game last season drawing a 25-game suspension including playoffs and the first 10 games of this season lost his cool in the Isles' recent loss to Pittsburgh when during a stoppage, he stepped on Jarkko Ruutu with his skate drawing a match penalty for attempt to injure.

A day after asking the team for a leave of absence for counseling, the 35 year-old Ontario native was banned a league record 30 games. So he'll certainly have plenty of time to think about what he did obviously in this latest incident, apparently not learning the lesson over the summer.

"Several factors were considered in imposing the longest suspension in NHL history for an on-ice incident," league disciplinarian Colin Campbell acknowledge to the AP. "While it was fortunate there was no serious injury to Mr. Ruutu as a result of Simon's action, the deliberate act of kicking an opponent with an exposed skate blade, especially where the opponent is in a vulnerable position, is and always has been a repugnant and totally unacceptable act in the game of hockey."

"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," Campbell admitted.
"This response serves not only the purpose of imposing appropriate punishment for the player involved, but also the purpose of deterring the player and all other players from engaging in similar conduct in the future -- hopefully creating a safer long-term work environment for all NHL players."

Simon will forfeit $292,683 of his salary due to the record suspension.

"It's excessive," said his coach earlier today after the Islanders morning skate before tonight's game. "What I think has no bearing on the facts. The league suspended him ... now we have to support Chris while he goes through this process and give him all the compassion and all the support we can give him as an organization."

That's all well and good but considering Simon's recent history, this was the appropriate response by the league.

Will it deter anyone from future incidents? Given the rough nature of our sport, probably not.

For now, the Fishsticks will have to get back on the winning track for the next couple of months without Simon starting tonight.

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