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Maple Leafs' Rielly suspended five games for hit on Greig

Morgan Rielly Toronto Maple Leafs Ridly Greig Ottawa Senators Morgan Rielly Ridly Greig - Getty Images

Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly has been suspended five games for cross-checking Ottawa Senators forward Ridly Greig in the dying seconds of Saturday's loss.

The NHL's player safety department announced the suspension Tuesday after meeting with Rielly virtually. The Maple Leafs blueliner was offered and accepted an in-person hearing, but was unable to reach New York due to inclement weather. 

This marks a first career suspension for Rielly, who made his NHL debut with the Maple Leafs in 2013.

The 29-year-old was ejected from Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Senators for the cross-check. He took exception to Greig firing an uncontested slapshot into an empty Leafs' net to cement the win, skating over to him and delivering the cross-check, sparking a melee.

“I thought it was appropriate,” Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said on the matter following the game, later adding “Our players have the right to react.”

On Monday, Rielly got more support from his teammates as they braced for the verdict on his suspension.

"If you rewind to when I came into the league, he’s probably still laying on the ice," veteran Ryan Reaves said of Greig on Monday. "I thought [Rielly’s response] was appropriate. I don’t see how a kid that young thinks it’s appropriate to do something like that."

"I was expecting a fine. A one-game max," Reaves added. "The kid [Greig] got up after he saw no one was on top of him anymore completely fine and I think that’s got to be taken into account too"

Auston Matthews echoed his support for Rielly as well.

"I think it definitely deserved a reaction," Matthews said Monday. "Morgan's not a malicious player and somebody that's dirty by any means.

"Him [Rielly] approaching him [Greig] was something that was bound to happen, somebody was going to do it, especially after a play like that. I just don't think it's necessary to [have] a hardest shot competition into the net."

Two days removed from his postgame comments, Keefe suggested that the logo on the front of the sweater may have been a reason Rielly received an in-person hearing offer.

"I think there’s a history also of events that happen in Toronto and with the Leafs that get more attention and more hype that tend to lead to something such as this," Keefe said. "To that end, not surprised."

Rielly is in his 11th NHL season and leads Maple Leaf defencemen with seven goals and 43 points in 50 games. The Vancouver native also leads the Maple Leafs in average ice time at 24:21. TJ Brodie is second on the team in average ice time, well behind Rielly at 21:44 per game.

The Maple Leafs welcome the St. Louis Blues to Scotiabank Arena Tuesday night, the first game Rielly will serve of the suspension.