Insider questions Player Safety's decision-making in Rielly case due to unfair comparison

Mike Armenti
February 12, 2024  (11:06)

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman
Photo credit: Sportsnet

I'm sure that there are a number of people who are already sick of the Morgan Rielly/Ridly Greig debacle. However, with the NHL offering Rielly an in-person hearing, increasing the likelihood of a lengthy suspension, it's something that is going to get a lot of attention.

Contrary to popular belief, the NHL doesn't really offer a lot of in-person hearings. There have been only a handful of in-person hearings that have occurred over the last 5 or 6 seasons, with at least 3 targeting Maple Leafs players, so it certainly goes to show you that the league handles matters differently with the Leafs than it does with the other 31 teams. Of course, we saw Nazem Kadri suspended for 5 games in 2019, Jason Spezza suspended for 6 games in 2021 and now Rielly's in-person hearing in 2024, which has yet to resolve.
If you don't believe me that the NHL's Department of Player Safety and head of player safety, George Parros, have a different set of guidelines when dealing with Leaf suspensions, take a look at this brutal cross-check by Montreal's Joel Edmundson on Wayne Simmonds, which resulted in no suspension:
It bears mentioning that Parros is a former Montreal Canadien and was one of the Leafs' most heated rivals. It also bears mentioning that Parros' career was cut short at the hands of former Maple Leaf Colton Orr. How this man is in the position he's in without someone recognizing the clear conflict of interest along the way is far beyond me.
On Monday, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman addressed the Rielly cross-check on his 32 Thoughts podcast, mentioning that he's really surprised to see this ordeal result in an in-person hearing as opposed to a phone hearing. He brought up David Perron's cross-check on Artem Zub as an example, stating that Rielly hit Greig's shoulder and that Greig elevating his arm is what caused the stick to ride up and catch him in the face, whereas Perron struck Zub directly in the head, with no ride-up. The fact that the two situations are being treated the same has baffled Friedman and many others.
"With David Perron and the one earlier this year against Ottawa, that was not a ride-up. Even though it was Perron's first career suspension, and it was harsh, 6 games, he goes right into Zub's face. He doesn't ride up, so that's why I was so surprised [with Rielly].

I try to look for the consistency and one of the things I've always been told about cross-checks is, does the player go directly to the head or does it hit something else first? So, like I said, I thought Rielly was going to get suspended because he was careless... but I thought we were looking at 2, 3, 4 games. I was not expecting this and I would expect that whoever is defending Rielly in this hearing is going to go hard at that. Because if I know that, I assume that they know that."

An in-person hearing doesn't guarantee a 5 or 6-game suspension. It just gives Player Safety the option of going over 5 games with a suspension. Still, with what we've seen from Player Safety in the past and how harshly they punish the Leafs versus other teams, I wouldn't be surprised to see Rielly slapped with a suspension that is 6 games in length or longer, even if it's absolutely not warranted.
12 FEVRIER   |   1302 ANSWERS
Insider questions Player Safety's decision-making in Rielly case due to unfair comparison

Assuming Morgan Rielly gets 6 games for his cross-check on Ridly Greig, how many games do you think he ACTUALLY deserved?

None, Greig had it coming30223.2 %
1-2, but that's it74757.4 %
I'd have been okay with 3 or 4 games25319.4 %
Latest 10 stories