Spezza appealing 6-game suspension for kneeing Pionk

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Toronto Maple Leafs veteran Jason Spezza is appealing his six-game suspension for kneeing Winnipeg Jets defenseman Neal Pionk in the head, the NHL Players' Association announced Wednesday.

The NHLPA filed the appeal on his behalf.

The 38-year-old has never previously been suspended in his 1,203-game career.

Spezza hit a vulnerable Pionk while the blue-liner was bent down trying to swipe at the puck with his glove. Pionk injured Maple Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin with a knee-on-knee hit earlier in the game.

Here's a look at the hit:

Pionk was able to stay in the game but entered concussion protocol on Tuesday. The 26-year-old was suspended for two games for kneeing Sandin.

The first stage of Spezza's appeal process will go through NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Spezza can then go for independent arbitration if he isn't satisfied with Bettman's ruling, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.

Spezza appealing 6-game suspension for kneeing Pionk
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