Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly appears to be in hot water after he cross-checked an Ottawa Senators player in the final seconds of a game on Saturday. Rielly is getting an in-person hearing with the NHL's safety department following the incident, per the USA Today. A hearing usually precedes a lengthy suspension from the league.
Rielly cross-checked Senators player Ridly Grieg in the head after Grieg scored a slap shot goal into an empty-net during Saturday's game. The Senators defeated Toronto, 5-3. Rielly took exception to the slap shot and dealt the cross-check with about five seconds remaining in the contest. The incident caused a spat between the two teams. Following the game, Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe and captain John Tavares defended the cross-check.
“I think he's reacting to a play,” Keefe told reporters after the game, per the USA Today. “Their player has a right to do what he wants in that moment, and our players have a right to react. That's the emotions of the game.”
The emotions may now lead to a prolonged suspension for the Maple Leafs' defenseman. An in-person hearing typically means a suspension could follow that lasts six games or more, per the USA Today. The NHL has made player safety a top priority this season and issued lengthy suspension to numerous players for incidents that have occurred on the ice.
No time or date has been set for the hearing. Toronto next plays the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. The Maple Leafs are 26-16-8 on the season following the loss to the Senators.