Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Allow me to elaborate

The story, on ESPN.com: Still-suspended Simon re-signs with Islanders

Translation: The fans are sick to our stomachs.

NEW YORK -- Chris Simon got a second chance from the New York Islanders.

The Isles are up the creek. They've had major personnel losses. Last season's number two center has chosen to play in Russia with the exiled Alexei Yashin rather than return to the team.
The rugged forward [cheap-shot artist], still serving a [too-short] record 25-game NHL suspension for [an ambush] a two-handed, swing-swinging attack against the Rangers' Ryan Hollweg last season, re-signed with the Islanders on Monday.
Simon missed the final 15 regular-season games in the Islanders' late push to the playoffs and the entire five-game loss to Buffalo in the first-round postseason series.

The Islanders missed Simon, his grit, his leadership, his measly 27 points...

Had New York advanced further,

Pigs with monocles and top hats would have flown out of our bums.

Simon could've completed his suspension in the playoffs. But since he hadn't missed a total of 25 games, the remaining five carry over to next season.

Game Six is Saturday, October 13th, in Philadelphia. Those cats will eat him alive.

The ban was the longest in terms of games missed in NHL history.

Gary Bettman was too gutless to ban Todd Bertuzzi for a full season, at minimum; then the lockout kept him from having to make this, among many other tough decisions.

Marty McSorley was suspended 23 games in February 2000 for knocking out Donald Brashear with a stick-swinging hit. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stretched that punishment to one year, and McSorley never played in the league again.

Of course, it was easy to ban McSorely at the very end of his career; consequently it had no sting in it. Someone can ask Ryan Hollweg or Steve Moore how much impact that's had on future incidents.

..."I take a lot of pride in being an Islander and I didn't consider playing anywhere else this season but on Long Island," [Simon] said in a statement.

"I can't believe they want me back after this. Nobody else would have me."

"Everyone knows the respect I have for [coach] Ted Nolan, but it goes well beyond that."

"I respect Ted so much I publicly embarrassed him and our franchise."

"Everyone connected with the Islanders, from the owner to the fans, have been first-class."

"Except me. Hopefully we'll forget that it ever happened, at least until the next joker comes along to get me off the hook."

"I cannot wait to get the season started."

"But I may want to skip anything in Madison Square Garden. I mean, it wouldn't be fair to the guys if the fans just booed me all the time and didn't get to them eventually."

... Simon had 10 goals and 17 assists with a plus-17 rating in 67 games.

In other words, the Islanders can't do without him defensively, even if they preferred it that way. Even with him they were in the bottom five in the league in shots allowed per game.

"Our staff was unanimous in wanting to bring Chris Simon back," [GM Garth] Snow said in a statement.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the press, we're over the barrel."

"He's an outstanding leader, and year after year he contributes on the offensive end."

"Hey, 27 points is contributing! I know that's like one month for Sid, whaddya want from me? Maybe he'll catch lightning in a bottle again and light it up like in '98."

I know. I shouldn't be bitter, right? And in the long run, it's hard to see if he can repent if he never gets an opportunity. I'm just a little rattled after recent personal experience, and the far more serious stories I've been reading lately, especially here and over here. Simon's had six suspensions. I can understand how Ted Nolan would want him to have another chance, since he himself spent ten years inexplicably blackballed from the NHL. Those are high dues, and he's made them count by turning in the fine work he's done with the Islanders. Snow, too, after watching the mass defection on July 1, has gotten the team together.

Let's say that I'm hoping this turns out better than I fear it will, for Simon and the Islanders. If he can truly show that he's not the same guy who tried to behead Hollweg, then I'll come back to this space and I'll say so.

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