Ridly Greig has been the centre of attention since he opted to fire a slapshot into an empty net Saturday night.
Monday afternoon, he didn’t want to get involved in all the talk surrounding the incident.
The Ottawa Senators’ winger politely declined a request to speak to the media at the Canadian Tire Centre as a storm of controversy brewed around his decision to ice the club’s 5-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the final round of the Battle of Ontario this season.
Greig, 21, wants see what action the NHL’s department of player safety takes with Leafs’ defenceman Morgan Rielly during a face-to-face hearing Tuesday. He has been summoned to New York after his vicious attack with a stick to the head to Greig with only five seconds left in the game.
“A guy takes a clapper into the net. Are you going to go play patty-cake with him,” Toronto tough-guy Ryan Reaves said Monday. “There’s got to be a message sent and I don’t think a push is a message to be honest with you.”
The Senators were tight-lipped about the matter because they want to see how the NHL deals with this.
“The league is looking at the incident so there’s not much more I can say about it. The league is handling it,” said interim coach Jacques Martin following the club’s 45-minute skate Monday.
Martin did chuckle when he was asked about the amount of attention the incident is getting.
“I shouldn’t say I’m surprised, no,” Martin said with a smile. “It’s just a situation where Ottawa and Toronto is a rivalry and it brings attention to people.”
The Leafs, and their faithful, were offended by what Greig did and some of them have come unhinged on social media.
“These young kids these days are playing a little bit of a different brand of hockey than I’m used to,” Reaves said. “The code has changed a little bit and the game has changed a lot. It’s unfortunate a young kid like that can get away with something like that and one of our best players is going to get suspended for it.
“Yeah, make hockey violent again, I’m going to get that tattooed on me.”
The reality is Greig shouldn’t have slapped the puck into the net, but you can’t blame him for being excited. This was, after all, a game against the Leafs and it’s the only time during the season the Senators need to take the crowd out of the game.
Recommended from Editorial
Senators winger Vladimir Tarasenko keeping his options open before NHL trade deadline
The Ottawa Senators have taken the right steps to right the ship
Rielly should get upset. What you can hold him accountable for is cross-checking a guy with force to the head area. Sure, he was within his rights to have some kind of response to Greig, but what he did wasn’t egregious and Rielly’s attack was definitely was over the top.
That’s why he’s been summoned to New York for an in-person hearing with the NHL’s VP of discipline George Parros on Tuesday. You can bet that Rielly will be facing a stiff suspension and even though he’s never been banned in more than 800 games the reality is there’s a first for everything.
Often, decisions by Parros are based on precedent. Former Leafs’ centre Jason Spezza was suspended for six games for kneeing Winnipeg blueliner Neal Pionk in 2021. This season, Detroit’s David Perron, who had no past history, was given six games for cross-checking Artem Zub in the head.
Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe, who called Rielly’s actions appropriate, was surprised to see his top defenceman summoned to the league’s office.
“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.”
The good news story in all of this may be this whole scenario serves notice that the Battle of Ontario is indeed back.
Maybe it took the return of Martin for a second stint behind the bench with trusted former captain Daniel Alfredsson, another Toronto villain, as an assistant coach to help rekindle the flames to a rivalry that has lacked this kind of fire for more than a few years.
These two teams haven’t met in the playoffs since the last time Martin was behind the bench in 2004. This rivalry needs fuel from the likes of captain Brady Tkachuk along with forwards Tim Stutzle, Shane Pinto and Greig to bring it back to the level we became accustomed to in the past.
“We, as a group, stand behind him and that’s all I want to say about it,” Stutzle said.
It’s just unfortunate the Leafs and the Senators don’t meet again this season because whatever suspension Rielly gets will only help fuel the fire.
“Hopefully one day I can take a clapper into their empty net and then I can see what the repercussions are of that, right?” Reaves said.