New York Islanders forward Chris Simon was suspended Friday by the National Hockey League for hitting another player in the face with his stick. The incident is the latest in a series of violent outbursts plaguing pro sports, which can go from a game violation to a criminal offense.
In what appeared to be a fit of rage during an Islanders-Rangers game, Simon viciously swung his stick with both hands at New York Rangers player Ryan Hollweg, leaving him motionless on the ice.
"I don't know what brings anyone to that point," Hollweg said. "I think he stepped out of himself."
Simon was apologetic.
"I feel bad for letting my team down," he said.
Veteran sportscasters were shocked.
"It was one of the worst slashing incidents that I've seen, and I've been around hockey for 30 years," ESPN Analyst Barry Melrose said. "Simon cannot use his stick as a weapon."
The incident is just the latest black eye for the NHL.
The incident happened on the third anniversary of the blindside hit by Todd Bertuzzi that left his opponent with a broken neck.
He pled guilty to assault but received no jail time or criminal record.
Marty McSorley was handed the same punishment after sending a player into convulsions with his stick attack.
Charges were also filed against Pacers' players and Pistons' fans after the infamous 2004 brawl at a basketball game in Detroit.
But it is rare that criminal action is ever taken in sports; some believe players get off too easy and that an athlete who makes a blatant attack during a game should face the law.
"Some athletes who are superstars have a sense of grandiosity and think like they're above the law, and they think that there will be no consequences," said Jay Granat, a sports psychoanalyst. "Some of them have never really learned how to control or manage their emotions. They spend most of their lives mastering their sport."
Zinedine Zidane used his head to send a message during a World Cup soccer game; he headbutted his opponent.
There were no cool heads, only flying fists during, one Knicks-Nuggets melee.
"You have to be disciplined; This is a job. You're professionals," Melrose said. "You have to obey the rules and you have to play the game within the rules."
The length of Simon's suspension will be determined by a disciplinary hearing and he also now faces criminal prosecution.