Both Ridly Greig and Morgan Rielly Are At Fault For End of Game Antics

If you have not seen the incident that occurred on Saturday night between Ottawa Senators forward Ridly Greig and Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly, it is not your typical hockey play. In fact, it is not a hockey play at all.

There has been a lot of debate between the new and old schools regarding what happened Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada. Should Ridly Greig have taken a slapshot into the empty net? Was the response by Morgan Rielly necessary, or should he have let that go?

Regardless of where you fall in the debate, one thing is for certain: both guys are at fault. Let’s start backward from the response to the goal itself.

The response by Rielly was stupid. He should not have responded with a cross-check to the head of Greig. However, a response needed to happen. We have seen in the past in the NHL when a player who is a little overzealous with his empty net goal, a crowd forms, and there is a bit of skirmish.

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While Greig was fine and got up, Morgan Rielly was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for his actions. Rielly is having an in-person hearing with the NHL for his cross-check to the head. The Department of Player Safety sees this as a non-hockey play, and they are right.

A quick note of the hearing. The in-person hearing has been changed to virtual due to the weather in the New York City area; thus, Rielly is not traveling to meet in the league offices.

There is precedent that Rielly could face a six or more-game suspension. David Perron received a six-game suspension for his cross-check on Artem Zub earlier in the season for his non-hockey play. The NHL stated in the Perron case that it was an “intentional strike with the stick made to exact retribution on an opponent.”

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So Rielly has put himself and now the Maple Leafs in a bad situation. Toronto is fighting for their playoff lives, and their number one defenseman is out for several games. The number is unknown at this time. But with an in-person hearing, the NHL can suspend six or more games.

Of course, all the comments after the game by head coach Sheldon Keefe and teammate Ryan Reaves do not help Rielly’s case; however, it will be on Rielly to explain what happened, not his teammates or coach.

Now to the goal itself. That was an emotional game between two divisional rivals. The Senators just beat the Maple Leafs for the third time this season. Ottawa won the season series, and it was a nasty game.

Greig wanted to put an exclamation point on the victory for the Senators. However, taking a slapshot inside the hash marks at the top of the crease was not the right decision either.

Now, players can score goals any way they want. And people will say aren’t you contradicting yourself? No, because icing a game with an empty net goal the way Greig did is not okay. You have to act like you have been there before, or else this is what happens.

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You see at every level of the sport. Players take offense when Team A tries to add another goal with a minute left in the game against Team B, and the score is 7-1. A message will be sent, and there are consequences to actions.

Even though Brady Tkachuk and Tim Stutzle stood up for Ridly Greig’s decision, his teammate Claude Giroux knew it was not the right thing to do at the time. Though he was defending his teammate, Giroux’s words to Greig came out differently.

If Rielly wanted to send a message, either throw a body check in Greig or, if he wants the cross-check option, go to the body. Either way, once the head was the principal point of contact, Rielly was getting suspended.

Yes, it is a new day and age for players in the NHL, and we want these guys to show emotion, but there are some things you do not do. Taking a clapper inside the hash marks near the top of the crease into an empty is not one of them.

And if a player does that, then expect a consequence. Greig figured nothing was going to happen; well, he was wrong. The emotion of Rielly was fine, but he needed to choose a better response.