Morgan Rielly's Emotional Response A Welcome Sight For Toronto Maple Leafs

Supplementary discipline is likely to follow, but the defenseman's response was "appropriate".
Toronto Maple Leafs v Ottawa Senators
Toronto Maple Leafs v Ottawa Senators / Chris Tanouye/Freestyle Photo/GettyImages

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly was not happy with Ridly Greig after his empty-net goal clinched a 5-3 victory for the Ottawa Senators in the latest installment of the "Battle of Ontario".

The goal clinched the season series for the Senators. It was the third time in four games that Ottawa defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs this year.

It continued the Leafs troubling pattern of losing to an opponent below them in the standings. In the big picture, though, Rielly's emotional response to Greig's goal could prove beneficial to the Leafs.

For a team that has often been criticized for its lack of toughness and ambivalence, it was a welcome sight.

Morgan Rielly's Emotional Response to Empty-Net Goal a Welcome Sight For Toronto Maple Leafs

Rielly was rightfully miffed at Greig's showboating. Instead of respectfully depositing the puck into the empty net, Greig emphatically slapped it home.

Of course, head coach Jacques Martin and Greig's teammates didn't find fault in what he did. Their takes might be different if the roles were reversed.

There is no question that Greig added unnecessary flare to his goal. The emotion of clinching a victory against one of your main rivals likely played a part in his actions.

Rielly had every right to be upset. Unfortunately for him, he made head contact with Greig in a split-second decision. Supplementary discipline is likely to follow from the NHL.

In the bigger picture, Rielly's response might provide an emotional lift to the Leafs. Team chemistry is immeasurable and can be overrated, but this type of action can galvanize a team.

The core of the Leafs has long been criticized for its lack of toughness and malaise in these types of situations. Brad Marchand's questionable hit on Timothy Liljegren earlier in the season comes to mind.

In this case, the Leafs longest-tenured player, and likely its most respected, acted without hesitation in thinking his team had been disrespected.

Inside the Leafs locker room, Rielly has likely gained additional respect from his teammates. Head coach Sheldon Keefe called his response "appropriate."

For too long, the Toronto Maple Leafs have had the reputation of being soft or aloof. Peripheral roster players like Ryan Reaves or Wayne Simmonds have been signed, with little success, to help with the issue.

This time, a leader from among the Leafs core players, and one of their cleanest players said "Enough is enough."


It was a long overdue, welcome sight to behold. Time will tell, if it is something the Leafs can rally around.