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Reaves backs Rielly's reaction: 'Make hockey violent again'

Chris Tanouye / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Next season's edition of the Battle of Ontario is going to be spicy.

The hockey world has been rife with debate surrounding Ottawa Senators rookie Ridly Greig's empty-net slap shot and Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly's controversial response. Ryan Reaves gave his two cents on the hot-button topic Monday, throwing his support behind his teammate.

"If you rewind to when I came into the league, (Greig is) probably still laying on the ice," the Leafs enforcer said, per The Athletic's Chris Johnston. "I thought (Rielly's response) was appropriate. I don't see how a kid that young thinks it's appropriate to do something like that."

"Make hockey violent again," he added, per Sportsnet. "Get that tattooed on me."

The incident occurred in the dying seconds of the Maple Leafs' 5-3 loss to the Senators on Saturday. Right after pummelling the puck to ice Ottawa's victory, Greig took a cross-check to the head courtesy of an irate Rielly.

"I mean, guy takes a clapper into our net, you gonna go play patty cake with him?" Reaves said. "Like, no, there's got to be a message sent, and I don't think a push is a message, to be honest with you."

Rielly is scheduled to have an in-person hearing for his actions, meaning he could be facing a suspension greater than five games. The meeting is set for Tuesday afternoon.

Greig participated in Monday's practice and declined to speak to the media about the incident.

Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said he was somewhat surprised that Rielly was summoned for an in-person hearing.

"I think there's a history 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," he said, per Johnston.

Reaves said he thought Rielly would get a fine or one-game ban at most.

"The kid got up after he saw nobody was on top of him anymore, completely fine, and I think that's got to be taken into account, too," he said.

"These young kids these days, they're playing a different brand of hockey than I'm used to," he added. "The code's changed a little bit, the game's changed a lot. It's unfortunate that 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."

Rielly ranks fourth on Toronto with 43 points (seven goals, 36 assists) in 50 games while averaging a team-leading 24:21 minutes of ice time per contest. He's never been suspended in his 11-year career.

Reaves, meanwhile, is a familiar face to the NHL Department of Player Safety.

The 37-year-old has been suspended three times: He got three games for kneeing in 2016, one game for a check to the head during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and two games for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct in the 2021 postseason.

The Leafs currently occupy the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with a 26-16-8 record.

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