Morgan Rielly offered in-person hearing for cross-checking

    The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has offered Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly an in-person hearing for cross-checking Senators center Ridly Greig in the closing seconds of Saturday’s game, per an announcement Sunday. With an in-person hearing, DoPS now has the option to issue Rielly a suspension in excess of five games.

    The play in question occurred with seconds remaining in the contest after Greig scored an empty-net goal via a slap shot, increasing Ottawa’s lead to 5-3. During his celebration, Rielly approached Greig and cross-checked him in the face, causing him to fall to the ice. Rielly was assessed a match penalty on the play.

    Rielly had five points in his last four games, but now faces a potential long-term absence. He has never been fined nor suspended in his 11-year, 769-game career. 

    Toronto’s longest-tenured player is second on the team in assists (36) and fourth in points (43) through 50 games and is logging a career-high 24:21 per game.

    Any long-term absence for Rielly puts serious strain on the Maple Leafs’ defense at a critical point in the season as they jockey for playoff positioning. Right-shot defenseman Conor Timmins has played just 16 games this season and is currently sidelined with an illness. 

    If neither Timmins nor the currently-injured Mark Giordano can play Tuesday against the Blues with Rielly out, Maxime Lajoie would draw into the lineup and Timothy Liljegren would likely become the team’s top power play option.

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