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Morgan Rielly

NHL Suspends Maple Leafs’ Morgan Rielly for Five Games Following Controversial Hit

Toronto, February 14, 2024, The Europe Today: In a significant decision by the NHL Department of Player Safety, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly has been suspended for five games due to a controversial cross-check to the head of Ottawa Senators forward Ridly Greig.

The incident unfolded in the dying moments of Saturday’s game, with only six seconds remaining in Ottawa’s 5-3 victory over Toronto. After Greig scored an empty-net goal with a slap shot, Rielly responded by delivering a forceful cross-check to Greig, sending him into the boards. The 29-year-old defenseman was promptly assessed a major penalty for cross-checking and a game misconduct.

Despite Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe deeming Rielly’s actions as “appropriate” postgame, the NHL disagreed. Rielly was offered an in-person hearing, which occurred on Tuesday in New York, a rarity reserved for cases involving potential discipline of six games or longer.

The Department of Player Safety justified the suspension in an explanation video, stating, “This play occurs well after the goal has been scored, late in the game with the score out of reach and for the sole purpose of retribution. … Rielly pursues Greig for some time and has sufficient opportunity to choose to engage him in a different manner or ensure that this cross-check is delivered solely to the body. Instead, fully in control of this play at all times, Rielly chooses to raise his stick to the level of Greig’s head and neck, approaching from the side and delivering a forceful strike to the face with his stick well after the goal has been scored. In short, this is not a hockey play.”

This marks the first disciplinary action in Rielly’s 11-year, 769-game career. As a result of the suspension, he will miss Tuesday night’s game against the St. Louis Blues, additional home games against the Philadelphia Flyers and Anaheim Ducks, and road games at St. Louis and the Arizona Coyotes. Rielly is eligible to return on February 22 against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Despite the suspension, Rielly has been a significant contributor to the Maple Leafs this season, registering seven goals and 36 assists for a total of 43 points, ranking fourth on the team.