Tempers flared at the end of Saturday’s game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators, resulting in a violent altercation between Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly and Senators forward Ridly Greig.
With the Senators leading 5-3 late in the third period, Greig unloaded a slap shot on the Leafs’ empty net to seal the Ottawa victory.
Rielly took exception to what he perceived as showboating by the rookie Greig. As Greig circled back to celebrate with teammates, Rielly charged and delivered a vicious cross-check to Greig’s face, knocking him to the ice.
This sparked a brawl between the two teams. Once order was restored, Rielly received a 5-minute major for cross-checking and a game misconduct, ejecting him from the game with only six seconds left.
Check out the Rielly hit below:
The high-profile incident has ignited discussion around player safety and appropriate on-ice conduct. Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe controversially stated “I thought it was appropriate” in regards to Rielly’s actions. Meanwhile, fans are eagerly awaiting Steve Dangle’s new YouTube video to see his reaction.
Sheldon Keefe on Morgan Rielly's reaction to Greig's slapshot at the end of the game.
"I thought it was appropriate."
— David Alter (@dalter) February 11, 2024
The 29-year-old Rielly is Toronto’s top defenseman, leading the team’s blueliners with 36 points (6G, 30A) through 49 games this season while averaging over 24 minutes per game. He has a clean record when it comes to suspensions and fines.
Rielly’s marriage to figure skater Tessa Virtue is notable among the more high-profile marriages in the sports landscape. Rielly only recently tied the knot with his longtime girlfriend.
The confrontation reignites the rivalry between the Leafs and Senators. Greig appeared to show up his opponent with the goal, but Rielly clearly crossed the line with his reckless retaliation.
Rielly’s status remains uncertain heading into Toronto’s next game on Monday. His absence would leave a big hole on the Leafs’ top defensive pairing.