By Bryan Jeon
On Saturday, the Islanders’ Chris Simon stomped on Pittsburgh’s Jaarko Ruutu late in the Penguins’ 3-2 win. The funny thing is the match penalty incident was only briefly mentioned in the game recap. The NHL needed four days to hand Simon the league’s longest suspension in history–30 games–breaking his own record of 25 games that he finished serving into this season. (See here.)
The suspension is absolutely under-deserving for a player like Simon. This is his eighth suspension in his 15-year career and if sports followed the “three strikes and you’re out” rule, the 35-year-old forward would be about a season away from being banned from the league thrice. (Yes, unfortunately, Ricky Williams would be banned as well.) It is even more disturbing that drugs or alcohol are not a factor. I mean, does that guy in the picture really look like a nice guy to you (like his teammates say) or does he look more like he wants to knock you out cold with his stick while shouting racial slurs at you (both of which he did in his career)?
What enrages me most about the entire incident is that there are people out there who believe the whole situation was blown out of proportion. I’m sorry but last time I checked, it is not common to stomp on people while playing hockey. And where one stomps on the fallen person is absolutely trivial. Yes, enforcers are important to every team and in fantasy leagues, it is a good thing for your team to get more penalty minutes. But it’s not jungle ball like we used to play as little kids or else there would be no point in any penalties or even officiating, right? Dropping the gloves is incomparable to using your stick or your skates as weapons and with a repeat offender to the extent that Simon was, it was disappointing not to see him banned from the game after this latest infraction.
Simon left the team on Monday to receive counseling and when one knows he needs time away from the sport under his own admission like Simon said after Saturday’s game, it’s time for him to consider calling it quits before he makes someone else involuntarily do so. For now, Simon can return as early as February 21.