Simon gets back on ice with Islanders Staff

2/13/2008 1:16:20 PM

Chris Simon skated with the New York Islanders on Wednesday and will travel with the team to Toronto for their game on Thursday against the Maple Leafs.

Simon will be eligible to return to the Islanders' line-up against the Tampa Bay Lightning next Thursday. He has been serving a 30-game suspension for stomping on the leg of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jarkko Ruutu.

"What I love most is playing hockey and when it gets taken away I realize how much I love it. Ted has always been a great help and a great supporter. My teammates were amazing. The whole organization kept checking in on me and seeing how I was doing and what I was up to. I really appreciated that,"  Simon said after practice.   "It means a lot when you go through tough times and you have the support of your peers. I got a lot of calls from former coaches, general managers and players that I've played with, who had a lot of great things to say to me. It means a lot. I thank them all."

The suspension was the eighth of Simon's 15-year NHL career.

He was given a 25-game suspension in March of 2007 for a stick swinging attack on Ryan Hollweg of the New York Rangers.

"I missed being around the guys and the team. I'm ready to get back out there and help the team. I've learned from my mistakes and the league did what they had to do and I accept it," Simon said.   "I'm going to try and be the best I can be when I come backm What happened in the past is always going to be there, but I look to now and getting ready for tomorrow."

He received a three-game ban in 1997 after directing a racial slur toward player Mike Grier. Grier and Simon later became teammates with the Washington Capitals.

During the 2000 playoffs, Simon, then with Washington, sat out Game 2 after he cross-checked Penguins defenceman Peter Popovic across the throat in the opener.

In April 2001, he drew a two-game ban for elbowing defenceman Anders Eriksson of Florida.

He was also given a pair of two-game suspensions in 2004. The first was for cross-checking Tampa Bay's Ruslan Fedotenko and then jumping on him and punching him, and the second was for kneeing Dallas Stars blueliner Sergei Zubov.