Last night's Rangers/Islanders game was actually turning out great. There was very little nastiness, and each team was doing good on the power-play and penalty-kill. Paul Mara showed his team that he truly would help them more than Aaron Ward did, and Chris Simon scored a good goal.
Then, it happened.
In the Islanders defensive zone, Ryan Hollweg and Chris Simon chased the puck towards the corner. Hollweg, making a smart play, made a nice, clean hit on Simon and proceeded to follow the puck. Simon was a bit shaken by the hit, but should have have left it alone. Instead, Simon found Hollweg, skated up, and two-handed Hollweg in the face/neck. Hollweg immediately went down, clutching his face with both hands. As the trainer rushed over and talked to Hollweg, checking to see that he was still conscious, blood could be seen dripping from his lower-face area and on to the ice. Hollweg was rushed to the dressing room as soon as he could walk, while Simon was given a five-minute match penalty and thrown out of the game.
Reporters found Simon, and he said only that he was disappointed that he let his team down, and would speak to the league about his bound-to-come suspension before talking to Hollweg. It made ESPN radio at all hours, from the time of the game, to 3:00 AM, to 6:00 in the morning. Everyone was either disgusted, shocked, horrified, or something along those lines. It was inevitably compared to the Todd Bertuzzi/Steve Moore debacle, and, ironically, came on the 3rd anniversary of that same event.
I, for one, am extremely terrified that such things can happen out of a hard, clean hit. How can you justify that at all? Unless there was some hidden comment by Hollweg, a severe insult, then there was no reason to go after him like that. It was ruthless, and really worse than the Bertuzzi event. In the case of Bertuzzi, it was a punch that can slightly be justified because of Moore's less harmful hit on Markus Naslund a week before. It was still awful, but it had more of a reason. Watching the Hollweg hit, it was absolutely ruthless. Simon was hit cleanly in to the boards, was a little dazed, he did fall down and grabbed his head a little, but then to just wait until Hollweg came near and smack him in the face? That was terrible, I'm absolutely disgusted. I say it should be a suspension for the last 15 regular season games, probably the playoffs too, and in to next season. It was absolutely outrageous.