COACHING CHANGES TRANSACTIONS POWER POLL DEPTH CHARTS CURRENT ODDS
Dan Di Sciullo, NHL Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Everybody deserves a shot at redemption, but putting others at risk in order to offer a single person a chance for atonement simply doesn't make sense.
That's the case with New York Islanders forward and enforcer Chris Simon, who has proven time and time again that he is incapable of doing his job as an NHL tough guy without using weapons other than his fists to hurt the opposition.
Take the latest example of violent behavior from Simon. On December 15, Simon appeared to be skating to the Islanders bench before he stopped off to step on the leg of Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruutu. It was an incident tantamount to assault, considering the blade of Simon's skate was used in order to try and injure another player.
Thankfully, Ruutu was not hurt, but that hardly excuses the intent, and the NHL understood that when they slammed Simon with a league-record 30-game suspension. After all, it was the seventh suspension handed down by the NHL against Simon for violent behavior.
Simon headed in the right direction immediately following the incident, as he took an indefinite leave of absence from the Islanders. But, the 35-year-old should take one step further and end his NHL career rather than trying to work his way back into the league's good graces once again.
And, Simon may indeed be considering retirement as an option at this very moment. After all, we've been told over and over what a good person Simon is off the ice, and walking away from the game now would show that he is truly trying to do the right thing.
Simon has no doubt had a tough life, and Islanders head coach Ted Nolan has done his part in helping his protege get his life on track. Nolan helped a teenage Simon kick a serious drinking problem, and has recently given him plenty of chances to succeed with the Islanders. Also, Nolan and Simon both have First Nation heritage as descendents of the indigenous people of Canada, and unfortunately have had to deal with racism while coming up in hockey.
However, now should also be the point where Nolan realizes that any issues Simon may be dealing with won't be solved on the ice.
Last year, Nolan had to defend possibly the ugliest incident in the recent history of the sport, as the hockey world watched Simon swing his stick like a baseball bat and connect with the face of New York Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg. The incident resulted in a 25-game ban that extended into this year's regular season.
Simon was able to control himself for just 26 games before striking again, and this time the infraction may have been worse in terms of pre-meditation.
When Simon hit Hollweg in the head with his stick, it was directly after absorbing a hit from that same player. Hollweg's check was clean but extremely hard, and Simon sustained a concussion from the blow that some folks believe could have clouded his judgement leading up to the violent stick infraction.
This time, Simon knew exactly what he was going to do beforehand, and there is no possible way anybody can watch the play and not see that stepping on Ruutu's foot was a premeditated act.
Simon clearly has an anger problem, and seems to have a breaking point that is hard to keep under control.
Many folks say that it's not surprising that players like Simon exist, because they are merely a creation of a violent sport. After all, there is an inherent contradiction in the NHL when it allows players to fight but expects the same players who are paid for fisticuffs to draw the line at a certain level of violence. Not a bad point, since the last time I checked the objective when fighting another person is to dish out as much pain as possible in an effort to keep yourself from getting hurt.
However, the difference between Simon and most other NHL enforcers is that the Isles' tough guy has repeatedly displayed an uncontrollable level of anger on the ice, and that is why his presence in the league is no longer acceptable.
The NHL's decision to suspend Simon a record 30 games was the best they could have done in this situation. Now, Simon should go the rest of the way to ensure that he never has another chance to let his anger get the best of him on the ice.