Unfortunately, Chris Simon's actions against Jarkko Ruutu Saturday night left the Islanders little choice but to come out with this statement from Charles Wang:
"The actions of Chris Simon on Saturday do not reflect what the New York Islanders stand for. They were reckless, potentially dangerous and against our team concept of grit, character and heart.
We know Chris as a respected teammate and as a gracious man away from the playing surface and believe strongly that he has earned our continued support. The Islanders are going to provide some time for Chris away from the team and give him the counseling he needs and the compassion he deserves. When Chris is completely ready, he will be a member of our team again."
I believe this is the right statement, as there is simply no credible defense the team can make for Simon's actions. Actions which will produce the 7th suspension of his career.
As a fan, this incident and its aftermath saddens me. I personally saw how visibly upset Ted Nolan was at the press conference after the game against the Penguins. I am sure he knew then that we all may have witnessed Simon's last game as an Islander. Nolan has a bond with Simon that stretches back to Sault Ste. Marie, where he served as a mentor to Chris.
I have some memories of Chris Simon as an Islander (only time will tell if he will have an opportunity to generate more), and seeing him enthusiastically celebrate with his team as they clinched a playoff birth last year at the Meadowlands ranks high among them. This year, after being granted a media pass by the Isles I saw him in an office adjacent to the team locker room looking almost gentle as he spoke with a member of the team's staff. That image stood in stark contrast to the one he maintained in the outside world. And I will not forget that Chris Simon would never turn his back on one of his teamates, and often fought to defend them.
So while I will join the many voices who will criticize his actions Saturday night, I won't criticize him as a person.
Every night that man pulled an Islander jersey over his chest, he brought more heart to his job than I will ever dream of bringing to mine.