UNIONDALE, N.Y. - To his coach and teammates, Chris Simon isn't the stick-swinging, skate-stomping fiend outsiders view him to be.

To the NHL, he is an out-of-control enforcer who keeps pushing the league to never-before-seen heights of discipline.

The New York Islanders forward was suspended for 30 games yesterday, breaking the mark of 25 he set in March with a ban that stretched into this season.

Simon, on a leave of absence from the team after the Saturday night dustup with Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruutu, will miss more than a third of the season and cannot 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. . . . It's a tough sport."

The Flyers made Simon a second-round draft pick in 1990. He never played for them and was sent to Quebec with Peter Forsberg as part of the trade for Eric Lindros in June 1992.

Simon, 35, left the Islanders on Monday to receive counseling, then met with league disciplinarian Colin Campbell on Tuesday.

Campbell had said Simon would receive drug and alcohol treatment, but the NHL later said that Simon's treatment simply would take place under the auspices of the league and players' association's substance-abuse and behavioral program.

Counseling details are kept confidential. Islanders spokesman Chris Botta said drugs and alcohol were "not the issue."

"The doctors who oversee the substance-abuse aspect" of the 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" might be provided.

Campbell said the six prior suspensions in Simon's 15-season NHL career had not been a deterrent.

"I am hoping both the 30 games . . . and the actual help he's going to get and counseling he's going to get . . . will help Chris and deal with the problem he has," Campbell added.

The first game of the ban was last night's meeting with the Buffalo Sabres.

"It's excessive," Islanders coach Ted Nolan said of the suspension.

"Now we have to support Chris while he goes through this process," he said.

With 5 minutes, 54 seconds remaining in New York's 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday, Simon drew a match penalty when he pulled out Ruutu's leg with his, sending the forward to his knees between the benches.

Simon then stomped on the skate of Ruutu, who wasn't seriously injured.

"It's a lot of games, for sure," Sabres defenseman Toni Lydman said. "On the other hand, those kinds of plays should be disciplined and disciplined severely."

Simon was ejected and the Islanders were a man short for all but the final 54 seconds of the defeat.

On March 11, Simon was suspended for 25 games - 15 regular-season games, a five-game playoff loss to Buffalo, and five games to open this season - for his two-handed stick attack on the face of New York Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg.

Although the leave of absence was announced before Campbell's decision, the NHL said Simon was instantly on indefinite suspension once the match penalty was assessed.

"This was something totally away from the play and nothing to do with the game of hockey," Campbell said.

Simon met with Islanders owner Charles Wang, general manager Garth Snow, and Nolan during practice Monday. They agreed that he should seek help.

He was to be paid during his time away, but now, with the suspension, Simon will forfeit $292,683, the league said. As a repeat offender, his salary is docked based on games missed as opposed to days in the season.

Simon was suspended five other times for violent acts on the ice and received a three-game ban in 1997 after directing a racial slur toward Mike Grier, a black player then with Edmonton.