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A blog by a long time New York Islanders fan who stays true to the fellas wearing orange, white and blue…but thinks the Islanders organization has some shaping up to do.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Only in Darkness Do We Seek Out Light

I’ve dreaded going to the message boards since arriving home from Saturday night’s game knowing that some Isles fans (not all) would use Chris Simon’s misconduct as justification for being just plain ole’ mean. Yes Simon again put a bulls-eye on his forehead by overriding his conscience with anger - many Isles fans are frustrated and disappointed with what he did, understandably so, but bashing Simon is basically doing the same thing he did...kicking someone when they are down. For anyone who finds it necessary to go beyond his recent game indiscretion to assaulting Simon’s character, may I offer this piece of advice - try not to be so blinded by judgment that you overlook the fact that sometimes what a person does is not always a reflection of who they are. And if you find yourself pointing your finger at Simon, make sure you also look at the three fingers pointing back at you.

It’s alarming how many Isles fans are stating that they let Simon’s hit on Hollweg go because it was in retaliation to Hollweg knocking Simon so hard his neck snapped. I saw both hits and the only hit that made me nauseous was the force of Simon’s revenge. Simon’s potentially lethal force was ‘let go’ because someone did it to him first? On Saturday Simon was reckless but certainly not as direct in his recklessness as he was towards Hollweg, yet NOW he should be thrown off the team or out of the NHL? Having some kind of awareness of his anger issues in the past, Simon should have kept his position as the wound instead of turning into the knife – he took the bait and got yanked from the frozen water. He’s paid the price for past misconduct but obviously experienced these altercations in vain, which meant he was destined to repeat it, a.k.a Ruutu.

As for the charge of misguided loyalty by Ted Nolan - standing by one of your own is not the same as enabling them. Beyond that Nolan is one person participating in the collective decision making process and not THE person deciding Simon’s fate with the Isles. Although in all fairness Nolan (publicly) came down harder on Hilbert for missing an open net than he did on Simon for missing the boat on impulse control. Even so, considering Nolan’s reputation as a coach, there must be circumstances with Simon that most of us are not and will not be made aware of. At this point, NO ONE knows why Simon did what he did EXCEPT Simon - quite possibly Simon doesn't even know why he did what he did. The answers may likely reside in the subconscious – as a result of unresolved childhood stuff coming up to bite a person in the butt. As ugly as anger can look coming out, it is way more poisonous on the inside. I once read a great quote but cannot recall who said it (my apologies to him/her) – “Whoever angers you, controls you.” What Simon may ultimately be held responsible for is bringing personal stuff into his professional life.

As a fan, I am on board with support because he is an Islander AND because we all make mistakes - sometimes we keep on making the same mistake. Sometimes it takes a brick in the head to really make a person realize something has got to change and usually by that point, has to change asap. What I’ve come to believe so far is this - first the universe sends the ping pong ball, then the Nerf ball, then comes the brick. The goal is to be out of denial enough, therefore enlightened enough to feel the ping pong ball and pivot at that point so that there is no need for the Nerf ball and brick. All three are not thrown with the intention of causing harm (no penalty pun intended), instead they are catalysts for lessons we are meant to learn. Lucky for us humans (although it doesn’t always feel lucky) the universe is stubborn and loving enough to not give up on delivering the goods.

A child is part of a family constellation, as the child grows s/he joins up with other family-type constellations - friends, work, team and so on. Every new family-type constellation has a similar make up to a family of origin…parents, siblings, extended family, a crazy uncle (oops…that last one is my family) and experiences similar family dynamics such as power struggles, rebellion, bonding, camaraderie, alliances, sibling rivalry just to name a few. The Isles are a ‘family’ and Isles fans represent either extended family or the community. Understanding the organization and team’s progress can be done in part by looking at the individual, group and family dynamics going on within their constellation.

Regardless of taking a break from the team, Simon is still a part of the constellation which means that even though he won’t be on the ice, his absence has the potential to affect the team more so than if he were present. I believe this to be the case with Hill’s departure because upon checking the Wild’s roster again last night, Hill’s picture is still the same one from when he was an Isle – which to me is symbolic of a lack of closure, a team wound that I hope one day is recognized, healed and closed…especially with Witt being a Pisces – now without the other frick-and-frack fish of his sign, which Hill once was as a teammate.

Once again Simon has become the ‘Identified Patient’ (IP) of the Isles family. Although this is one of the hardest roles to be in, the upside is that the IP is considered the strongest of the family, possessing enough ego strength to act as the family tuning fork that lifts up the carpet to reveal what has been swept underneath. The IP is usually the one ‘with the problem’. In the darkness of the IP’s symptoms comes the family’s search for light, usually without initially realizing that if it hadn’t been for the ‘problem child’ being the one to finally throw a brick, the family would not have been in the position to pivot in a healthier direction. On many occasions, loved ones of the clients I have worked with eventually thank their family member for enduring the role of scapegoat in order to lead the family, and if I may re-direct Ted Nolan’s statement about the problem, towards the light of healing and not fixing. He ain’t broke Ted but I think we all know what you meant. : )

The Isles organization has responded in either PR or Zen-like fashion - they offered Simon a way back. Who hasn’t at one time or another in their lifetime needed someone to offer a popcorn trail back towards redemption?, with some needing more chances than others. I would be shocked to hear a response to this question other than crickets chirping. The challenge for the Isles organization is to not make Simon the scapegoat of the team and instead figure out if his outbursts have been symptoms of a larger issue within the organization, granted, while also holding Simon accountable for his individual contribution to the problem. A healthy/effective approach for the NHL to take might be to recognize that a fixed number of game suspensions has not worked in the past with Simon and overall may not be the best approach for players in general and under certain circumstances. Maybe the NHL could align with and expand upon the Isle’s organization approach and make his return to the game conditional, spelling out clearly for Simon what he must accomplish before returning to hockey. It may be a pipedream but the other option seems to be career ending which doesn’t seem like a punishment that fits the crime. Yes he has had many other conduct problems leading to suspensions but that’s actually a point that needs to be made…how was he ALLOWED to get away with this kind of destructive behavior for so long??? The brick thrown at Simon has the potential to be a lesson that everyone under the NHL umbrella can learn from, encouraging hockey organizations to acknowledge and respond sooner than later before someone really gets hurt…or worse. In an aggressive sport like hockey, conduct problems are like tissues, pull one out without getting to the root of the conduct and another one is bound to follow.

Although Simon’s statement seemed to hint of a farther departure from the Isles than a break, I hope that he will follow through with the help that has been offered, take an honest self-inventory, and transform into a Phoenix that rises from the ashes. The choices before Simon are his and his alone but from the comments made publicly by Charles Wang, Ted Nolan and some of his teammates, he is not alone.

Now more than ever the fellas need to re-group as they move onward and upward…of course beating the Sabres along the way!


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