Chris Simon took a paid leave from the New York Islanders yesterday, agreeing with the team that he needed time away from hockey following his latest penalty for attempting to injure an opponent.
Simon missed the first five games of this season while completing a 25-game ban - his sixth NHL suspension - meted out in March. He could be in line for another long penalty after he took down and stepped on Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruutu last weekend.
"The actions of Chris Simon on Saturday do not reflect what the New York Islanders stand for," team owner Charles Wang said in a statement. "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."
Simon met with Wang, general manager Garth Snow and coach Ted Nolan during practice yesterday and they agreed the 35-year-old left wing should seek help. That group then spoke with captains Bill Guerin, Mike Sillinger and Brendan Witt and goalie Rick DiPietro before a team meeting.
"We discussed the measures we have to take," Nolan said. "Chris is very remorseful and very sorry for his actions. As an organization, we don't condone it. We don't appreciate the thing he did. On the flip side, we have to have some compassion, some understanding and some support."
At no point did the Islanders consider releasing Simon. The team didn't reveal what kind of counseling he would receive.
"That is one of the easiest things people do in life, when there's a problem, you get rid of the problem and pretend it doesn't exist," Nolan said. "We're much more compassionate than that.
"Chris is an outstanding individual that needs some support."
The NHL hasn't held a disciplinary hearing yet.
"There is no excuse for my actions . . . and I apologize to everyone involved," Simon said in a statement. "The Islanders and I agree that the right thing to do is for me to take some time away from the team.''
* Toronto defenseman Bryan McCabe had hand surgery and will be out 6 to 8 weeks. He broke three bones in his left hand during Saturday's loss at Montreal.
Defenseman Anton Stralman was recalled from the AHL's Toronto Marlies, where he had 11 assists in 21 games this season.
* Vancouver center Brendan Morrison could be out up to 12 weeks after surgery on his right wrist. Morrison's 542-game playing streak, the longest current run in the NHL, ended last Wednesday night when he was forced out of the lineup because of the injury.
In last night's games:
* At Detroit, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler scored in the shootout to lift the Red Wings to a 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals.
Tomas Holmstrom scored two goals in regulation for NHL-leading Detroit.
* At Los Angeles, the Colorado Avalanche scored two goals in the first 4 minutes and went on to defeat the Kings, 4-2. *