Isles sign still-suspended Chris Simon
NEW YORK --Chris Simon got a second chance from the New York Islanders. The rugged forward, still serving a record 25-game NHL suspension for a two-handed, swing-swinging attack against the Rangers' Ryan Hollweg last season, re-signed with the Islanders on Monday.
Simon agreed to a one-year deal worth $475,000, but will be forced to sit out the first five games of the season for the vicious hit. He can earn another $325,000 in bonuses based on games played.
Simon missed the final 15 regular-season games in the Islanders' late push to the playoffs and the entire five-game loss to Buffalo in the first-round postseason series. Had New York advanced further, Simon could've completed his suspension in the playoffs. But since he hadn't missed a total of 25 games, the remaining five carry over to next season.
The ban was the longest in terms of games missed in NHL history. Marty McSorley was suspended 23 games in February 2000 for knocking out Donald Brashear with a stick-swinging hit. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stretched that punishment to one year, and McSorley never played in the league again.
Simon played on a one-year deal last season with the Islanders, his first with the team. He agreed to a second year but settled for $525,000 less in base salary plus lost wages for the suspension.
Based on his $1 million contract last season, Simon forfeited just more than $80,200 for the 15 regular-season games he missed. Players don't receive a salary during the playoffs.
"I take a lot of pride in being an Islander and I didn't consider playing anywhere else this season but on Long Island," he said in a statement. "Everyone knows the respect I have for (coach) Ted Nolan, but it goes well beyond that. Everyone connected with the Islanders, from the owner to the fans, have been first-class. I cannot wait to get the season started."
Shortly after the hit, Simon donned his Islanders sweater for a team photo, unsure he would ever wear it again since he was set to become an unrestricted free agent. But general manager Garth Snow and Nolan decided to bring him back for another year.
"Chris is just one of those old-school guys who gave our team a little bit of everything last season," said Nolan, who coached Simon in junior hockey with Sault Ste. Marie. "We can't overstate Si's leadership. He'll have a big role with our team, just like last season."
Simon had 10 goals and 17 assists with a plus-17 rating in 67 games. He didn't miss any outside of the suspension. The 35-year-old left winger is entering his 15th NHL season.
His 27 points marked his best production since the 2001-02 season when he had 31 for the Washington Capitals. In 744 NHL games, Simon has 143 goals, 302 points and 1,765 penalty minutes.
"Our staff was unanimous in wanting to bring Chris Simon back," Snow said in a statement. "He's an outstanding leader, and year after year he contributes on the offensive end."
Simon is nearing the end of his sixth NHL suspension. He was given a match penalty for deliberate attempt to injure when he got up from the ice after being crunched into the boards by Hollweg on March 8. Simon took a few strides toward Hollweg, and caught him with a two-handed swing of his stick that connected on the chin and neck.
Hollweg took a few stitches in the chin, but was not seriously hurt. Simon said he was diagnosed with a concussion from the check he took from Hollweg.
Simon had been suspended four other times for violent on-ice acts, and received a three-game ban in 1997 after directing a racial slur toward player Mike Grier, who is black.