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Reaves backs Rielly ahead of hearing: 'I thought it was appropriate'

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Toronto Maple Leafs veteran Ryan Reaves backed defenceman Morgan Rielly's reaction to Ridly Greig's empty-net slapshot when asked about the situation Monday.

Rielly, who skated with the Leafs in practice Monday, will have an in-person hearing with the NHL's department of player safety on Tuesday for his cross-check to the head of the Ottawa Senators forward in the dying seconds of Saturday's game.

"If you rewind to when I came into the league, he’s probably still laying on the ice," Reaves said 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 of Rielly facing a lengthy suspension. "The kid 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"

Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe, who also called Rielly's reaction "appropriate" on Saturday night, pointed to a bigger spotlight on his club as one reason Rielly will be meeting with player safety. 

"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, who was ejected for the cross-check in Saturday's 5-3 loss, could be suspended for more than five games after being offered the in-person hearing.

The 29-year-old has seven goals and 43 points in 50 games this season while leading Toronto 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. 

Reaves, a veteran of 853 games, has amassed a total of 1,043 penalty minutes since making his NHL debut during the 2010-11 season. He has two goals and no assists in 25 games with the Maple Leafs this season, posting 20 penalty minutes in his first year with the club.