Chris Simon isn’t everyone’s favorite hockey player.
That’s probably an understatement, considering the number and length of suspensions he’d received in his last seven seasons as an NHLer (four). Two of them, regrettably, were in an Islanders uniform, and they set records no player really wants to set. Nonetheless, Simon was an Islander, and therefore he gets a spot in the Where Are They Now? series.
Simon came to the Island in 2006, at the same time Ted Nolan became coach. The two had a good relationship, stretching back to both Simon’s and Nolan’s tenure with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. It wasn’t enough, however, to keep Simon’s temper from boiling over — and boil over it did on March 8, 2007, when he took his stick to the face of Rangers member Ryan Hollweg during an Isles/Rangers game.
That earned Simon a 25-game suspension, at that time the longest in NHL history. From then on, he had a target on his back.
He returned to the Island for the 2007-08 season, but only played 28 games on the Island. In December 2007, he was again on the suspension list, this time for 30 games (setting a new record) after tripping then-Pittsburgh forward Jarkko Ruutu and stepping on his skate boot (because that’s what it was) with his blade. Around the same time, Chris Pronger stomped on the leg of Ryan Kesler and received only eight games for it, despite a greater intent to injure and the same lengthy suspension history as Simon.
Nonetheless, the Isles decided enough was enough. After a brief interlude in which Simon was sent for anger management counseling, he was traded to the Wild in February 2008, and from there, he jumped to the KHL, where he remains today. First he plied his trade for Vityaz Chekhov for three seasons, showing steady offensive totals and even being named captain at one point. Then he was traded to UHC Dynamo, where he only played three games. He spent the 2011-12 season with Metallurg Novokuznetsk, but doesn’t seem to appear on their roster as of this writing. This interview gives a bit more of an inside look on Simon’s tenure in the KHL, as well as other things upon moving to Russia.
Chris Simon may very well have gotten a bit of a raw deal in the NHL. Yes, he was a fly-off-the-handle type of player; the Hollweg incident proves as much. But the Ruutu “stomp” never deserved 30 games, and the inconsistency of then-NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell showed after what happened with Pronger. At least in the KHL, he’s managed to find a level of stability.
Until next time.