Friday, March 9, 2007

Chris Simon is not a nice guy

Will he bleed? That’s all we care about. – Eric Cartman

Again I wasn’t going to write about Mr. Simon’s actions the other night against Ryan Hollwig. Simply because it’s going to be written about by everybody ad nausaeum. Everyone is outraged, hockey players are out of control, things need to changed, athletes are horrible people, think about the children – my God THE CHILDREN! Does that about sum it up?

If you didn’t see it then let me recap. Ryan Hollwig, skating for the Ranger, checks Chris Simon, currently of the New York Islanders, into the boards. A legal check from what the replays shows, but Simon’s head slammed up against the glass fairly hard. Mr. Simon a long time veteran took exception and as Hollwig skated back toward him Simon unleashed a hellish two handed semi-baseball swing that landed smack on the Ranger forward’s chin knocking him out cold.

The NHL has suspended Simon indefinitely. It looks like he will be out at least the rest of this season. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s suspended for all of next season. Gary Bettman wants violence out of the game. No fighting, no dirty shots, nothing like that.

In 2000 Marty McSorley was suspended 23 games for hitting Donald Brashear in the head with his stick. McSorley claims that he was trying to get Brashear’s attention by hitting him on the shoulder to goad him into a fight. The length of the suspension was more a direct result of the fact that Brashear landed awkwardly on the ice suffering a severe concussion.

That’s the most relevant incident to this one. You’ll see a lot of mention of the Todd Bertuzzi/Steve Moore confrontation in 2004 that led to Bertuzzi being out of the league for 17 months. I don’t see much a comparison between the two. Bertuzzi chased Moore down the ice and hit him in the back of the head. The cracked vertebrae Moore suffered was caused by Bertuzzi driving him into the ice and the rest of the players piling on.

There was no piling on. In fact one of the oddest images from the Simon Incident (as it sure to be known) is Hollwig lying alone on the ice while everyone else is pushing and shoving a good 10-20 feet away by the benches.

I’m not here to defend Simon, what he did was uncalled for and has no place in the game. It was, however, not a premeditated action. By the time Simon got back to his skates and looked up Hollwig was skating back his way. He didn’t hunt him down or attack him from behind.

I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Simon is suspended for next season. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Simon retires during that suspension. He has played for 14 seasons, a long time for someone who’s made his living as an enforcer. It would be a sad end to what had been a rather uplifting story in the NHL.

Simon (who is Native American) had struggled with alcoholism throughout much of his life. He credits current Islanders coach Ted Nolan (also Native American) for turning his life around. Simon signed a one year contract to be reunited with his old coach and was playing fairly well (27 points in 67 games).

In the grand scheme of the game this isn’t a big deal. That’s right despite everything you hear over the next week nothing is going to change. Fighting isn’t going to be outlawed and players aren’t going to stop hitting each other.

Listen to some of the old timers talk about hockey back in the ol’ days. Or if you don’t know any ol’ timers look it up.

1926 Billy Coutu severed Eddie Shore’s ear in practice by body slamming him to the ice. In 1927 Coutu punched a ref during a brawl and was the first player suspended from the NHL.

1969 – Wayne Maki of the St Louis Blues fractured Boston’s Ted Green’s skull with his stick.

1988 – Dino Ciccarelli (former member of the Lightning – see this is related to Tampa Sports) spent a day in jail after attacking Luke Richardson (current Lightning member) with his stick

All of these incidents are as bad as the Simon Incident and hockey has gone on. So let everyone spew their venom and demand change. Something will happen next week and everyone will move on.

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