NHL News: Leaf’s Spezza appeals suspension, and Canes’ Cole fined for kneeing Jets’ Scheifele

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza received a six-game suspension Tuesday for what the NHL Department of Player Safety deemed a “reckless and retaliatory knee to the head” that injured Winnipeg Jets defenseman Neal Pionk.

Late yesterday, Spezza filed an appeal through the NHLPA.

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Spezza appeals suspension

In the explanation video released by the Department of Player Safety, a league official said that Spezza and the Maple Leafs argued that a knee to the head wasn’t considered kneeing, and that Spezza could have made a legal check had Pionk not changed the position of his head. The official said that the league disagreed with those arguments.

A big point of contention by the Maple Leafs and Spezza is his clean record. Something the NHL says they took into account.

“Ultimately, while we believe that Spezza’s long history of clean play supports his argument that he does not intentionally drive his knee into the head of Pionk, this is a play in which he is attempting to enact forceful retribution on a player who is in a vulnerable position,” the official said.

It’s almost certain that the appeal will center around his history to have the number of games reduced.

Cole fined for kneeing Scheifele

nhl news ian cole fined
Nov 22, 2021; San Jose, California, USA; Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Ian Cole (28) reacts to loss off the game during overtime to San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Ian Cole was fined $5,000 by the NHL on Wednesday for kneeing Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele on Tuesday night.

The fine is the maximum allowable under the collective bargaining agreement.

Cole was ejected after the incident, which occurred at the 7:39 mark of the third period in Carolina’s 4-2 road win.

Cole, 32, has one goal, two assists and 29 penalty minutes in 24 games this season, his first with the Hurricanes.

A first-round pick by St. Louis in 2007 and a two-time Stanley Cup winner with Pittsburgh, Cole has 149 points (28 goals, 121 assists) in 619 games with the Blues, Penguins, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild and Hurricanes.

–Field Level Media contributed to this report