Morgan Rielly suspension: Why Maple Leafs defenseman faces potential ban for cross-checking Ridly Greig

There are a lot of unwritten rules in the game of hockey. You don’t stand on the team logo in the locker room; you don’t hit your own goalie in the face in warmups. 

Now, you can add “you don’t take a slap shot into an empty net” to the list. 

Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly is set to have an in-person hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety on Tuesday, Feb. 13. The meeting comes as a result of Rielly cross-checking Senators forward Ridly Greig in the head during Ottawa’s 5-3 win on Saturday. 

The entire sequence of Greig’s slap shot into the net and Rielly’s retaliation has sparked controversy. Some feel as though Greig’s actions were uncalled for, especially from a rookie; others have vehemently condemned the hit from Rielly. 

Either way, the Leafs blue-liner is likely to miss a handful of games for his actions. Here is what you need to know about a possible suspension for Rielly. 

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Will Morgan Rielly be suspended?

Rielly is set to have an in-person hearing on Tuesday with the NHL Department of Player Safety. 

According to Player Safety, “If the infraction might require a suspension of six games or more, the offending player is offered the opportunity to an in-person hearing. In this case, the player remains suspended until the hearing takes place. If the player waives his right to an in-person hearing, the hearing will be conducted by phone.”

Nearly all in-person hearings in the NHL result in multi-game suspensions. 

Morgan Rielly hit on Ridly Greig

Rielly is facing a suspension after cross-checking Greig in the head at the end of the Leafs’ 5-3 loss to the Senators on Saturday night. 

In the final minute of the game, Toronto pulled the goalie in order to put an extra attacker out, leaving an empty net. After a turnover, Greig had the puck all alone with just seconds left. 

The Senators rookie didn’t just fire the biscuit into the empty net — he wound up a slap shot and hammered the puck into the open cage with five seconds left in the contest, sealing the win for Ottawa. 

Reilly immediately took exception, skating over to Greig during his celebration and delivering a cross-check to the side of the Ottawa forward’s head. 

For his actions, Rielly received a five-minute major for cross-checking and a game misconduct. 

The entire sequence has resulted in mixed feelings on both sides. It shouldn’t be a surprise that neither side felt as though their player did anything wrong. Instead, they’re pointing the finger in the opposite direction.

On the Ottawa side, the organization feels fit waiting to see what the results are of Rielly’s hearing. 

“It’s not our business right now, it’s up to the league to decide what’s going on,” Senators forward Tim Stutzle said. “We, as a group, we stand behind [Greig].”

Senators head coach Jacques Martin offered a similar message, stating he wouldn’t comment on the matter and that it was now in the league’s hands. 

As for Toronto, plenty have come to Rielly’s defense while knocking Greig in the process. Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe called Rielly’s response “appropriate,” and Auston Matthews said he felt Greig’s slap shot “wasn’t necessary.”

“If you rewind to when I came into the league, he’s probably still laying on the ice,” Leafs forward Ryan Reaves said. “I thought [the response] was appropriate. I don’t see how a kid that young thinks it’s appropriate to do something like that.”

Neither Rielly nor Grieg have spoken about the incident since Saturday. Greig declined to comment on Monday, while Rielly likely will not speak until after his hearing is concluded with the DoPS. 

NHL suspensions 2023-24

This is the second time that an in-person hearing has been offered. The only other incident that required an in-person hearing with the Department of Player Safety was when Red Wings forward David Perron cross-checked Senators defenseman Artem Zub.

Perron was handed a six-game suspension that was upheld by Commissioner Gary Bettmann after an appeal. It is the longest suspension so far of the 2023-24 NHL season. 

Here’s a look at the other bans handed out by Player Safety this campaign:

Date Player Team Offense Games
Oct. 3 Arthur Kaliyev Los Angeles Kings Kneeing 4
Oct. 20 Brett Howden Vegas Golden Knights Check to the head 2
Oct. 20 Rasmus Andersson Calgary Flames Charging 4
Oct. 27 Connor Clifton Buffalo Sabres Check to the head 2
Oct. 30 Charlie McAvoy Boston Bruins Check to the head 4
Nov. 4 Andrew Mangiapane Calgary Flames Cross-checking 1
Nov. 26 Ryan Hartman Minnesota Wild Tripping 2
Nov. 30 Brendan Smith New Jersey Devils Slashing 2
Dec. 9 David Perron Detroit Red Wings Cross-checking 6
Dec. 10 Erik Gudbrandson Columbus Blue Jackets Aggressor 1
Jan. 2 Jason Zucker Arizona Coyotes Boarding 3
Jan. 18 Yanni Gourde Seattle Kraken Charging 2
Jan. 19 Will Lockwood Florida Panthers Goaltender Interference 3
Jan. 25 Brendan Gallagher Montreal Canadiens Check to the head 5
Jan. 26 Jacob Trouba New York Rangers Elbowing 2
Feb. 6 Brendan Dillon Winnipeg Jets Check to the head 3
Feb. 10 Nikita Zadorov Vancouver Canucks Check to the head 2


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