Slam the hammer down

On Saturday, Chris Simon explained to NHL officials why he went all First Nations on Ryan Hollweg.

On Sunday, the NHL answered by handing the Islanders forward the longest suspension in league history -- 25 games -- for his two-handed chop on Hollweg during a home loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday night.

Simon will sit for the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs, should the Islanders advance. If the Isles play fewer than 10 playoff games, the suspension will carry over next season.

Simon has been suspended six times in his career -- three for stick-swinging incidents.

Justified? Absolutely. Fighting was, and always will be, part of the game but what Simon did would earn him a criminal record. While what Simon did was horrific, I may in the minority when I say it wasn't nearly as bad as Marty McSorley's chop to Donald Brashear's head in 2000.

Simon's slash also came on the three-year anniversary of Todd Bertuzzi's on-ice mugging of Steve Moore that broke his neck and ended his career.

Anyone who thinks this kind of play will go away, especially in the post-lockout NHL in which more emphasis is placed on skill, take a look at the boxscore from the Blackhawks' 7-5 win over Phoenix on Saturday night.

David Koci, a 6-foot-6 bruiser from the Czech Republic, played less than three minutes in his NHL debut. Three fights, a charging major and a double game misconduct adds up to 42 penalty minutes.

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