To hear him tell it, Ryan Reaves has no problem with how Morgan Rielly reacted to Ridly Greig’s, ahem, enthusiastic empty-net goal on Saturday night.
The veteran enforcer held court with Toronto media on Monday morning and let it be known that he believes Rielly’s response was “appropriate.”
“If you rewind to when I came into the league, he’s probably still laying on the ice,” Reaves told reporters. “Kids these days, they’re playing a different brand of hockey than I’m used to. The code’s changed a little bit.
“The game’s changed a lot,” Rielly continued. “It’s unfortunate that a kid like that can get away with something like that and one of our best players is going to get suspended.”
Rielly was assessed a two-minute minor penalty for cross-checking and a game misconduct for his actions against Greig, who wound up for a slap shot before scoring an empty-net goal with six seconds left in Saturday’s game against the Leafs.
Like Reaves, the 21-year-old Senators rookie is an agitator in his own right, although he also has far more offensive ability than the Leafs’ 37-year-old pugilist. Greig is not expected to miss any time due to injury as a result of the hit by Rielly.
Rielly is slated to attend an in-person hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety in New York City on Tuesday.
“I was expecting a fine. A one-game [suspension] max,” Reaves said. “The kid got up after he saw no one was on top of him anymore, [he was] completely fine, and I think that’s got to be taken into account, too.
“Make hockey violent again,” Reaves added. “Get that tattooed on me.”
It remains to be seen whether NHL Player Safety head George Parros will agree with Reaves’ sentiments. The longtime enforcer-turned-league employee could deliver a ruling on Rielly’s fate as soon as Tuesday evening.
Because his hearing will be conducted in-person, Rielly is eligible to be assessed a suspension of more than five games. The Leafs are scheduled to return to action on Tuesday evening against the St. Louis Blues at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.