The Toronto Maple Leafs will be without the services of Jason Spezza for the next six games after the NHL’s Department of Player Safety suspended him for kneeing Winnipeg Jets defenseman Neal Pionk.
The ruling came down just before the second period of the Maple Leafs’ game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday evening. Spezza did not play as the team awaiting the ruling.
The league described Spezza’s knee on Pionk as “reckless and retaliatory.”
Pionk was injured on the play and is currently in concussion protocol. He did not accompany the Jets for the upcoming two-game road trip.
Shortly before Spezza’s hit, Pionk injured Maple Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin.
According to numerous reports, Spezza intends to appeal the suspension. The first appeal will be heard by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Because Spezza’s suspension is six games, a further appeal could be heard by a neutral arbitrator, should Spezza not be satisfied with Bettman’s ruling.