Toronto Maple Leafs centre Jason Spezza was suspended six games by the NHL Department of Player Safety on Tuesday for hitting Jets defenceman Neal Pionk in the head with his knee in Winnipeg in a game Sunday night.
Toronto’s Jason Spezza has been suspended for six games for Kneeing Winnipeg’s Neal Pionk. https://t.co/DDlM0Tdzw3— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) December 8, 2021
The incident happened in the third period when Pionk, who was falling to the ice on the play, was reaching to clear the puck with his hand. Spezza's knee made contact with Pionk's head on the hit.
Spezza will forfeit $21,000 in pay while serving the ban. It's the first suspension of his 15-year career, spanning more than 1,200 games.
TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reports that it seems likely that an appeal of Spezza's suspension will be filed. The initial appeal would go to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, and then to a neutral arbitrator if Spezza is not satisfied with his ruling.
Jason Spezza's six-game suspension will cost him $21,000 in pay.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) December 8, 2021
Pionk is in concussion protocol and won't travel with the team on their upcoming road trip.
The 26-year-old is also serving a two-game suspension after delivering a knee-on-knee hit to Leafs defenceman Rasmus Sandin earlier in the same game.