Morgan Rielly’s Future: Insights into the Suspension Process
The Toronto Maple Leafs were taken aback when they learned that the NHL Department of Player Safety was considering suspending Morgan Rielly for six games or more for his cross-check on Ottawa’s Ridly Greig. Head coach Sheldon Keefe expressed his disbelief, stating that similar cross-checks in the past did not warrant such severe punishment. However, Keefe acknowledged that events involving the Leafs tend to attract more attention and hype, which may have influenced the decision.
The frustration within the organization was evident, as they typically strive to avoid making controversial comments. Rielly’s hearing at the NHL’s New York office was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, and it’s unfortunate that it won’t be broadcasted for everyone to see. The Leafs did not anticipate their top defenseman being sidelined for up to two weeks when they left the Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday night.
Rielly’s cross-check on Greig occurred after the play and after a goal, making it a significant factor in determining the length of his suspension. Rielly will have the opportunity to state his case in an in-person meeting with George Parros and other representatives from the NHL Players’ Association. This personal touch may work in Rielly’s favor.
In recent years, the NHL Department of Player Safety has handed out a range of punishments for cross-checking infractions, from one-game suspensions to six-game bans. Rielly’s decision to have an in-person hearing gives player safety the option to suspend him for six games or more, but they also have the discretion to impose a shorter ban. Every game less he is suspended is valuable for both the Leafs’ playoff push and Rielly’s salary.
Comparisons have been drawn to David Perron’s six-game suspension for cross-checking, as he also appealed his punishment to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Perron’s appeal was upheld, and he will take his case to a neutral arbitrator. Rielly’s fate may follow a similar path.
Rielly’s history of disciplinary issues works in his favor. Throughout his NHL career, he has taken a total of 100 minor penalties, significantly fewer than many other defensemen. Rielly finished fourth in voting for the Lady Byng Trophy in 2019, demonstrating his clean style of play. This season, he had only four minor penalties through the first 50 games.
If Rielly decides to contest his suspension, he has the option to file an appeal within 48 hours of the decision. The appeal process would involve NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and potentially a neutral arbitrator if the suspension is confirmed at six games or longer.
As Rielly waits for the outcome of his hearing, he will be hoping that his case does not progress to the point of needing a neutral arbitrator. The Leafs and Rielly are eager for a resolution that allows him to return to the lineup as soon as possible.
In the end, Rielly’s future and the length of his suspension will be determined by the NHL Department of Player Safety.