After there was talk of internal debate in the league discipline office about an in-person vs. phone hearing for Morgan Rielly, an invitation for an in-person hearing has been offered to the Leafs defenseman following the Ridly Greig incident on Saturday night.
Rielly’s in-person hearing will be held Tuesday afternoon at the NHL’s New York office.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) February 11, 2024
The in-person hearing opens up the possibility of a similar punishment to David Perron’s six-gamer for a cross-check on Artem Zub earlier in the season (i.e. five-plus games).
Perron had a clean record in terms of supplemental discipline (similar to Rielly) and ended up sitting for six, much to his dismay:
Perron: “Obviously, I got the guy a little high. I understand there was some discipline that needed to be done there. It just felt like on my side it was pretty excessive for the comparables, the history, my career – a lot of things, really, that played into it.”
There are a few key distinctions here between Rielly and Perron’s incidents. Perron mistakenly blind-sided an innocent bystander, while Rielly went after an opponent who intentionally agitated the opposition and who saw Rielly approaching to engage. It really shouldn’t garner as severe of a punishment.
The Leafs needed to respond and were justified in responding in the moment; at just about any level of hockey, rubbing an empty-netter in the face of the other team at the end of the game garners a reaction. If we could do it over, though, Rielly would’ve jumped and punched Greig instead of getting the stick up, which was always going to bring him into the cross-hairs of the DoPS.
The incessant debate in the media about it for 12+ hours since all but assured this sort of outcome. It has a similar feel to the Matthews-Dahlin incident; while we could pull comparables where zero punishment or merely $5k fines were assessed (two such examples below), the Leafs operate in a fishbowl and these types of incidents are greatly magnified.
How are these above incidents handled by the league if there are panels dedicated to them on the national broadcast after the game, instant speculation about suspension length amongst the media, and incessant debate about the incident for days afterward?
In the meantime, the Leafs are going to have to forge ahead without their #1D who had been eating more minutes on the blue line than ever before. The playoff picture is tight and the margin for error slim, so whatever combination of Conor Timmins, William Lagesson, and Mark Giordano plays during this upcoming stretch of games without Rielly, the Leafs are going to have to rally around their assistant captain taking one for the team and really come together here.