With the fifth and final game of Morgan Rielly’s suspension being set to be served on Wednesday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was going to need to get his ruling on Rielly’s appeal made quickly. That decision has now been made with the league announcing that Bettman has affirmed the five-game ban and that no change will be coming.
The NHLPA filed the appeal last week on Rielly’s behalf. According to the notes in Bettman’s ruling, they argued that the principal point of contact being the body, Rielly’s history of no supplemental discipline, and that Senators forward Ridly Greig wasn’t injured on the play were reasons to reduce the suspension. Bettman acknowledged that Rielly’s clean history and the lack of injury were already factored into the decision, suggesting that had this not been the case, the suspension almost certainly would have been considerably longer.
Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs argued that Greig’s actions (slapping the puck into the empty net in the dying seconds of the game) were provocative, an argument that Bettman felt was “utterly irrelevant”.
While Toronto has certainly missed Rielly at a time when their back end is already thinned out, his absence hasn’t hurt them in the standings as they’ve won all four games and will try to make it five on Wednesday. He’ll be eligible to return the following night against Vegas.