The National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety has had a busy morning this Monday, and it sounds like at least 2 NHL players are headed for a suspension.
Both the incidents stem from the Sunday night game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Winnipeg Jets, and there will be no one questioning the fact that this game got very ugly. I guess the best way to do this is to present the potential suspensions in the order that they happened on the ice.
It all started during the third period of the game when veteran Winnipeg Jets defenseman Neal Pionk delivered a knee on knee hit to Rasmus Sandin of the Maple Leafs. Unsurprisingly the Maple Leafs were not the least bit happy about the infraction, and I think it is very likely that it put a target on Pionk's back for the remainder of the evening.
Here's a replay of that initial hit:
As a result the NHL's Department of Player Safety has announced that Pionk will have a hearing today for kneeing Sandin, but they weren't done there.
I suspect that Pionk's knee to Sandin is what would lead to retaliation from Leafs veteran Jason Spezza just a few short moments later. Fresh off of kneeing Sandin, Pionk was making a diving play for the puck when he received a knee of his own courtesy of the aforementioned Spezza, only this time it looked considerably worse. Spezza appeared to deliberately drive his knee down and into the head of Pionk, once again a move I believe was a clear act of retaliation against Pionk.
I suspect that the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety has viewed things in a similar vein, as it would appear as though Spezza is headed for a very lengthy suspension. In their announcement today they revealed that Spezza would be offered an in person meeting, something that is usually reserved for suspensions of 6 games or more.
Here is a look at the second knee:
Update: Wayne Simmonds has now also been fined.