Jets defenseman Neal Pionk suspended two games for knee-to-knee hit on Rasmus Sandin

The NHL suspended Winnipeg Jets defenseman Neal Pionk for two games Monday for a knee-to-knee hit that injured Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin.

During the Jets’ game against the Maple Leafs Sunday, Pionk adjusted course to attempt to hit Sandin after the latter shot the puck, leading with his knee. Sandin left the game, and TSN later reported Toronto expected him to be out two to three weeks.

Neal Pionk suspended

“If he wants to deliver this hit, the onus is on Pionk to take an angle of approach that ensures he is in good position to make a legal, full-body check,” an NHL Department of Player Safety official said in an explanation video. “Instead, having taken an angle which has him lined up outside of Sandin’s path, Pionk turns his right leg and extends his knee, jutting it forward to avoid missing the check entirely. This results in forceful, dangerous and direct knee-on-knee contact.”

Pionk had no previous disciplinary history in the NHL. He will miss the Jets’ upcoming games against the Carolina Hurricanes at home and at the Seattle Kraken.

In 24 games this season, Pionk has two goals and 14 assists for Winnipeg.

Also Monday, the Department of Player Safety announced it had offered an in-person hearing over Zoom to Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza for another incident in the same game.

Spezza appeared to retaliate against Pionk by ramming his knee into Pionk’s head when the Jet was diving to the ice to make a play at the puck.

Spezza’s hearing will be Tuesday. In-person hearings indicate that the league is considering a suspension of five or more games.

–Field Level Media