Simon eligible to play Feb. 21 after serving record 30-game suspension

Chris Simon, suspended in December by the league for 30 games after stomping on a Pittsburgh Penguins player with his skate, has resumed skating with the New York Islanders.

Simon is scheduled to accompany the team to Toronto for the Islanders' game against the Maple Leafs, though he is not eligible to return to game action until Feb. 21.

"What I love most is playing hockey and when it gets taken away I realize how much I love it," Simon said after practice, according to The Sports Network of Canada. "[Coach] Ted [Nolan] 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 ... It means a lot. I thank them all."

Simon's 30-game suspension was the longest in NHL history; he also served the second-longest suspension in league history, a 25-game punishment for swinging his stick at the face of Ryan Hollweg of the New York Rangers in March 2007. Simon received the ban after stomping on Penguins forward Jarkko Ruutu's leg in a Dec. 15 game.

The Islanders placed him on paid leave after the incident, and he underwent anger counseling. Simon termed the counseling sessions "helpful," according to Newsday.

"I know what I did is wrong, the league did what they felt they had to do for me to realize that they're not going to accept those types of actions," Simon told Newsday. "I wish I would have learned the first time, but I have to focus on being the best I can be to help my team to do whatever it takes for us to win and to move forward. Learn from the past but not drag it around with me."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.