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Inside the suspension procedure of Morgan Rielly and the defense player for the Maple Leafs’ future


“Most of the cross-checks that have occurred in the last few years, we spent a lot of time watching, and the ones that I felt were similar to Morgan’s were nothing close to requiring that,” head coach Sheldon Keefe stated on Monday. But at the same time, I believe there’s a history of things happening in Toronto and with the Leafs that get greater notice and excitement and that often result in something like this.

“I’m not surprised in that sense,”

It was an indication of simmering resentment behind the scenes, considering the lengths the organization usually goes to in order to remain above the fray and avoid statements along the lines of this.

Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. ET will be Rielly’s hearing in the NHL’s New York headquarters. That should be captured on tape so that everyone may watch it.

The Leafs had no idea that their best defenceman could be out for up to two weeks when the bus left Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday night.

Rielly wanted revenge right away for what he saw as a slight against his team, as Greig finished Ottawa’s 5-3 victory with a slap shot into an empty goal. With only a few seconds remaining in the match, he gave Greig a cross-check to the head that was strong enough to take him off his feet.

Leafs forward Austin Matthews stated, “I think it definitely deserved a reaction.” It goes without saying that Morgan is not a dishonest or malevolent player in any way. He was obviously going to contact Gregg, in my opinion; someone had to do it, especially following a performance of that kind.

“Going down there and competing for the hardest shot into the net doesn’t seem really necessary,”


Morgan Rielly’s cross-check on Ridly Greig resulted in a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct. (Source: Getty Images; Chris Tanouye; Freestyle Photography)2)

Greig did not appear to be hurt during the play, and Rielly has no history of receiving extra discipline. On Monday, he participated fully in the Senators’ practice.

A suspension of more than five games would not have been possible if the NHL Department of Player Safety had chosen to hold Rielly’s disciplinary hearing over the phone. It was evident that George Parros’ group is inclined toward something more extensive when they instead gave him the choice of an in-person hearing.

To be honest, I believed everything would work out,” said veteran forward Ryan Reaves of the Leafs. Perhaps a fine or suspension from the game. However, I was a hockey fan in a different age, and to be really honest, I don’t even think it would have been acceptable.

“The other child may have received a call telling him to “smarten up.””

Here are the variables that will influence Rielly’s length of absence from the Leafs lineup as he prepares for his hearing in New York:

How does the procedure operate?

Notable is Rielly’s decision to accept the NHL’s offer of a face-to-face meeting. Along with J.P. Barry of CAA Hockey, members of the Leafs’ management, and representatives from the NHL Players’ Association, he will travel to New York to plead his case.

Players, notably Detroit Red Wings forward David Perron, who was punished six games for cross-checking in December, have had the opportunity to hold “in-person” hearings remotely through Zoom since the COVID outbreak. Many players have chosen to take advantage of this opportunity.

Rielly will take a more customized approach.

The main reason that is thought to be against him is that his cross-check was given after the play and after a goal, as opposed to during regular gameplay. He’s probably going to try to explain to Parros why he was chasing Grieg and how the play got away from him.

“Morgan has made it apparent that he didn’t intend for it to turn out the way it did, but he’s going to New York to demonstrate that he won’t just walk away from it,” Keefe added.

The NHL Department of Player Safety has imposed a variety of sanctions for cross-checking offenses in the past few years. These sanctions have included a six-game suspension for Perron, a one-game suspension for Edmonton’s Alex Chiasson in 2021, a four-game suspension for Pittsburgh’s Eugeni Malkin in 2022, and more.

Although player safety has the option to award Rielly six games or more during the in-person hearing, it is free to award him less.

For the Leafs, who are still fighting for a postseason spot, every game he can play to shorten his suspension is crucial. Likewise, for Rielly, who may lose almost $39,000 in salary each game if he is ultimately punished.

One cannot help but draw parallels with the Perron event. After his six-game sentence was upheld despite his appeal to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, he will take the matter to an impartial arbiter this summer.

Bettman pointed out in his decision that Perron had options when he chose to protect a wounded teammate instead of cross-checking Senators defenceman Artem Zub in the side of the head.

“Instead of fighting, he refrained from pushing, jabbing, or even taking off his gloves. Although he might have still received punishment, the incident might have ended without further punishment if he had made a different decision to stand by his friend, according to Bettman.

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