— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) December 8, 2021
Jason Spezza Suspended for Kneeing Incident Against Neal Pionk
Jason Spezza has been handed a heavy suspension by the NHL Player Safety. During a highly emotional third period in the Leafs and Winnipeg Jets game on the weekend, Jason Spezza drilled Neal Pionk in the head with his knee.
Spezza had an in-person hearing on Tuesday and did not dress for Toronto’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Spezza will be eligible to return to the Leafs’ lineup on December 19th against the Seattle Kraken.
After no penalty was called on the play, Jason Spezza took it into his own hands to police the game and go after Pionk. Jason Spezza does not have a history of dirty plays but Player Safety could not ignore this play.
Spezza targeted Pionk and as Pionk went to clear the puck, he lost his stick and went to make a play from his knees and swat the puck out of his zone. Spezza barrelled in and looked to hit high but as Pionk dipped to his knees it was too late for Spezza to change his trajectory. Unfortunately, Spezza led with the knee and he made an impact with Pionk’s head.
Neal Pionk finished the game, taking multiple shifts after the collision. But after further evaluation after the game, it was deemed that Neal Pionk had suffered a concussion from the play.
Neal Pionk was suspended for two games for his part in the debacle. It’s unclear whether he will be out with a concussion past his two-game suspension.
The Leafs will need to dig deep as a team to stay competitive in the tight Atlantic Division.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Jason Spezza are looking to appeal the decision for a six-game suspension.
Appeal coming for Spezza. First would be to Commissioner Bettman. If not satisfied with that ruling, option for independent arbitrator.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 8, 2021
Jason Spezza has seven goals and 11 points in 26 games this year.