19/03/2007 6:34:41 PM
NHL forward Chris Simon will not face criminal charges for an ugly on-ice incident for which he was suspended a league-record 25 games.
Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg falls after being hit by the Islanders' Chris Simon during a March 8 contest. Simon was handed one of the stiffest suspensions in NHL history.<br /> <em>(Ed Betz/Associated Press)</em>
Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg falls after being hit by the Islanders' Chris Simon during a March 8 contest. Simon was handed one of the stiffest suspensions in NHL history.
(Ed Betz/Associated Press)
"After completing a thorough review of the on-ice incident, my office has declined to criminally charge New York Islander Chris Simon," Kathleen Rice, Nassau County district attorney, Kathleen Rice said in a statement.
The NHL suspended Simon for his two-handed stick attack to the face of the New York Rangers' Ryan Hollweg during a March 8 game at the Nassau Coliseum. Rice said her office considered "the willingness of the potential victim to support a criminal prosecution" and other factors in reaching its decision.
Hollweg, who required stitches after the hit, told the prosecuter's office he wasn't happy with what Simon did, but didn't want to press charges.
The incident occurred during the third period of the Rangers' 2-1 win on Long Island, N.Y. After Hollweg put Simon face first into the boards with a hard check, Simon got up, skated a few strides toward Hollweg and delivered a two-hand chop to the jaw with his stick.
In recent years, two NHL players have been charged criminally for on-ice incidents.
Former Vancouver Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi, now with the Detroit Red Wings, was found guilty of assault for a sucker-punch that left Colorado forward Steve Moore with a fractured neck and other injuries stemming from a game on March 8, 2004. A B.C. court sentenced him to a year's probation and 80 hours of community service.
Now retired, Marty McSorley of the Boston Bruins was convicted of assault with a weapon for slashing then Canuck Donald Brashear in the head with his stick in February 2000. He was handed an 18-month conditional discharge.
Simon's suspension tops in NHL history
Colin Campbell, the NHL's senior executive vice-president and director of hockey operations, handed down Simon's suspension after reviewing the hit. Simon must miss a minimum of 25 games - 15 regular-season contests without pay, plus another 10 games (should the Islanders make the playoffs, Simon would miss these or serve the remaining games at the start of next season).
Simon's suspension, the sixth of his NHL career, will be the longest in terms of games missed in league history.
McSorley missed 23 games after being suspended for the balance of the regular season in February 2000 for his stick attack on Brashear. McSorley was banned for a year, but never appeared in another NHL game.
Gordie Dwyer also missed 23 games after a September 2000 suspension. He was playing for Tampa Bay Lightning when he abused officials and returned to the ice from the penalty box to fight in an exhibition game against Washington Capitals.
Bertuzzi sat out the rest of the season for punching Moore from behind in March 2004. Bertuzzi missed 13 regular-season games and the Canucks' seven playoff games, and he was prevented from playing anywhere during the 2004-05 lockout. He had been suspended indefinitely and was eventually reinstated by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
Dale Hunter, while he was with Washington, was suspended for the first 21 regular-season games of the 1993-94 season for a hit on Pierre Turgeon, then with the Islanders, following a Turgeon goal during the 1993 playoffs.
Simon sorry for actions
Simon, from Wawa, Ont., issued a statement shortly after his hit on Hollweg saying he was "disgusted" by what he saw.
"There is absolutely no place in hockey for what I did," he said.
He apologized to Hollweg, a 23-year-old Californian, saying his hope was to "reach out to him in the near future." He also apologized to his team and to the league.
"What you saw Thursday is not the person, player and competitor that I am," he stated. "I know my teammates and opponents over my 14 years in the NHL understand that."
Simon added he was "completely out of it" when he got up after being checked by Hollweg. He underwent physical tests the day after the game and said he'd suffered a concussion when he hit the boards. Team doctors told him he should not travel.