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Why is Simple Simon still in the NHL?

Late in Saturday's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders winger Chris Simon took down Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruutu with his leg along the boards between the team benches. Ruutu fell to his knees. Simon then stomped on the back of Ruutu's leg with his skate. Today the Islanders placed Simon on paid leave, and say that they're going to arrange for counseling for Simon. The team also released a statement from Simon in which he apologized.

When the NHL hands down its inevitable suspension, it will be the seventh of Simon's career. His sixth came back in March, when he retaliated for a check from the Rangers' Ryan Hollweg by slashing Hollweg in the face and neck with a two-handed stick swing. The league suspended him for 25 games, the last 5 of which he served at the beginning of this season. Despite this rap sheet, the Islanders re-signed Simon to a one-year contract this summer. Team officials' comments about how they don't condone Simon's behavior ring hollow at this point, as does Simon's apology.

If the NHL is serious about cracking down on illegal acts that can cause injuries -- as evidenced by the five Philadelphia Flyers suspended for separate incidents this season, even though in at least one of those cases there clearly was no intent to cause injury, and NHL vice president Colin Campbell even admitted as such -- then it's time to send Chris Simon packing permanently.

Playing in the NHL should be a privilege. Simple Simon has abused this privilege again and again. He should get all the counseling he needs, and then move on to the next chapter of his life. -- Joe Guckin