Simon Suspended 30 Games; Isles Lose 2-1

Thursday, December 20th 2007, 7:33 am
By: News On 6

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) _ Chris Simon is setting records it seems only he can break.

They're not tainted, yet certainly most unwanted. The New York Islanders enforcer, who by many accounts is a true gentleman off the ice, just isn't able to behave on it. Now he will spend the better part of two months trying to figure out if he can.

If he gets another chance, that one could be his last.

Simon topped his previous mark Wednesday when the NHL banished him from the league for 30 games after he took down Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruutu with his skate on Saturday and then stomped on the Penguins forward's foot with his blade.

A bad move, most definitely. The fact it came only nine months after Simon was given the previous longest suspension for an on-ice incident made it even worse. If 25 games wasn't enough to get the message across, NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell had to take things further.

``We never considered lifetime,'' Campbell said. ``But we considered a lengthier suspension than 30 games. We considered a lot of numbers.''

The suspension, Simon's eighth in a 15-season NHL career, was announced hours before the Islanders played their first game without him since his latest infraction. The effort and drive were there, even though Simon wasn't, but New York dropped a 2-1 decision at home to the Buffalo Sabres.

``We did everything but score,'' Islanders captain Bill Guerin said. ``We have the hard work part down, but it's still a loss.''

One that made the Islanders 1-6-1 in their past eight games. They outshot Buffalo 43-17, but managed to dent Sabres goalie Ryan Miller only once.

Maxim Afinogenov scored with 2:17 left in the third period, just as Buffalo's sixth power play ended, and the Sabres won their fourth straight.

``They were playing better in our end, but we wound up with the two points,'' defenseman Toni Lydman said. ``It doesn't have to be pretty _ we won.''

Derek Roy also scored for the Sabres, who split the four-game series after losing twice to the Islanders in the first two games of the season.

New York defenseman Brendan Witt tied the score 1-1 at 3:50 of the third period with his first goal in 71 games.

In other games, it was Detroit 6, Los Angeles 2; Chicago 5, Nashville 2; and Anaheim 2, Colorado 1 in overtime.

Simon, on a leave of absence from the Islanders following the dustup with Ruutu, will miss more than one-third of the season and can't return until Feb. 21 against Tampa Bay.

``Chris is a good, solid guy,'' teammate Bryan Berard said. ``He does have that switch where he can snap, and I think that's why he's been in the league for so long. It's a tough sport.''

The 35-year-old Simon left the Islanders on Monday, then met with Campbell on Tuesday in Toronto. Campbell had said Simon would receive drug and alcohol treatment, but the NHL later clarified that Simon's treatment simply will take place under the auspices of the league and union's substance abuse and behavioral program.

Counseling details are kept confidential. Islanders spokesman Chris Botta confirmed drugs and alcohol are ``not the issue.''

``The doctors who oversee the substance abuse aspect of the joint NHL/NHLPA program also oversee the aspect of behavioral health,'' league spokesman Frank Brown said. ``It would be improper to draw any inference as to whatever treatment or counseling they may be providing.''

Now everyone involved is waiting to see if Simon can be helped enough to return to the NHL and abide by the rules.

Simon missed the first five games of this season as he finished the 25-game ban he received in March for his two-handed stick swing to the head of Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg.

``He's very contrite and very apologetic,'' Campbell said of Simon during the hearings. ``Very quiet, almost to the point where he's somewhat humiliated by what he's done himself. And that's probably the disheartening fact to this.

``You would hope he wouldn't do it again, but maybe he can't help himself. I don't know. He's never actually come out and said, 'I will never do this again.'''

Red Wings 6, Kings 2

At Detroit, Henrik Zetterberg and Dan Cleary each had a goal and an assist to lift the host Red Wings.

Detroit, which has won 10 of 11 games, improved to a league-best 25-6-3. Los Angeles (12-21-2), which lost its fifth straight, has the NHL's worst record.

Jiri Hudler, Tomas Holmstrom, Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula scored the Red Wings' other goals. Niklas Kronwall had four assists for his career-high point total.

Dustin Brown and Patrick O'Sullivan had goals for the Kings.

Blackhawks 5, Predators 2

At Chicago, Robert Lang and Patrick Sharp each scored two goals, and the Blackhawks handed Nashville its fifth straight loss.

Dustin Byfuglien also scored for Chicago, which ended a two-game losing streak and won for the second time in eight games. Martin Havlat had three assists.

Sharp's first goal was his league-leading sixth short-handed. The Blackhawks lead the NHL with 11 short-handed goals.

J.P Dumont and Radek Bonk had power-play goals for the Predators, who have lost seven of eight.

Nashville's Chris Mason was pulled early in the game after allowing goals on the first two shots he faced. He was replaced by Dan Ellis, who stopped 25 of 28.

Ducks 2, Avalanche 1, OT

At Anaheim, Calif., Chris Pronger scored the tying goal early in the third period and Mathieu Schneider got the winner 3:31 into overtime for the host Ducks.

Jonas Hiller faced 12 shots in his fifth start of the season for Anaheim.

Hiller faced only five shots before Cody McCormick converted Ian Laperriere's pass from behind the net at 8:33 of the second period.