NEW YORK (AP) -Chris Simon left the New York Islanders on Monday, saying he needed time away from hockey following his latest penalty for attempting to injure an opponent.
Simon missed the first five games of this season while completing a 25-game ban handed down by the NHL in March. He could be in line for another long penalty following his actions Saturday night against Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruutu.
Late in New York's loss to the Penguins, with the Islanders trailing by a goal, Simon was given a match penalty when he pulled out Ruutu's leg, sending the forward to the ice between the team benches. He then stepped on the back of his leg with his skate.
Simon was ejected and the Islanders were left a man short for all but the final 54 seconds of the 3-2 defeat.
"I want to start off by making clear that there is no excuse for my actions on Saturday night and I apologize to everyone involved," Simon said in a statement. "The Islanders and I agree that the right thing to do is for me to take some time away from the team.
"I have enjoyed a long career achieving my dream of being a player in the National Hockey League and I'm proud of my accomplishments. But I acknowledge that time and assistance is needed before I return to the game."
Simon also apologized last season after he retaliated for a hit from Ryan Hollweg by striking the New York Rangers forward in the face and neck with a two-handed swing of his stick.
The rugged forward was suspended for the rest of the regular season and all of the playoffs, forced to serve a minimum of 25 games. He missed the remaining five games before the postseason and sat out New York's five-game playoff loss to Pittsburgh.
Had the Islanders advanced, Simon would have been ineligible to play even if the total games exceeded 25. That wasn't the case, and Simon missed the first five games this season.
"I want to thank the Islanders for providing the environment for me to become a better player and person, and our fans for their support along the way," Simon said.
Despite the long ban, the Islanders signed him to a one-year deal this summer for $475,000 and included $325,000 in potential bonuses based on games played.
"The actions of Chris Simon on Saturday do not reflect what the New York Islanders stand for," team owner Charles Wang said in a statement. "They were reckless, potentially dangerous and against our team concept of grit, character and heart.
"We know Chris as a respected teammate and as a gracious man away from the playing surface and believe strongly that he has earned our continued support. The Islanders are going to provide some time for Chris away from the team and give him the counseling he needs and the compassion he deserves. When Chris is completely ready, he will be a member of our team again."