The Toronto Maple Leafs already had one of the worst blue-lines in the NHL before their best defenseman acted like an angry child and got himself suspended for what I imagine will be a huge chunk of the rest of the season.
While I understand the reaction, the fact is all of the arguments against suspending Rielly that I have seen are really very silly. He hit his arm first? Really? Who cares? The result was a headshot, and I don't see how intent matters when you're attacking someone.
The NHL cannot condone a player using his stick as a weapon to hit another unsuspecting player in the head after a goal. Where he hit him first, and how it turned into a headshot are irrelevant. He did hit him, and he did it after he scored a goal when no one is expecting to get hit. It was a brutal cheap-shot and no matter how satisfying it was, or how much you loved the Leafs showing some fight, it is still indefensible.
He did it, and now he has to face the consequences, and those consequences should be sever.
Hitting a player with a dirty cheap shot shows no honor. If you're mad, offer to fight him, that's actually allowed.
This game was extremely embarrassing for the Leafs. They lost to one of the worst teams in hockey for the third time this year. They were forced to play with an AHL goalie because their GM is incompetent, and their longest serving player acted like a little child throwing a tantrum over something that was pretty tame, as far as antagonizing behavior goes.
Which brings me to the Code.
The "Hockey Code" Is Pathetic and Rielly Deserves to Be Made an Example Of
The Code is an unwritten set of rules that no one quite agrees on, but which are centred around things like "respect" and "tradition."
The Code - like it or not - has an uncomfortable adjacency to things I assume we all want to get out of the game - things like sex assault, racism, hazing, homophobia and sexism. I'm not trying to say the Code itself is responsible for these things, but it's a huge part of the culture that made those things OK for decades.
The Code is why people make fun of jocks. It's silly and illogical and seems really lame to people who don't know the sport (and to a lot of us who do as well). And the easiest way to tell it's bad is to see the kinds of comments that come the way of anyone who questions it.
The Code is a sad reminder of a racist, sexist, entitled past. The Code is, by far, the worst part of sports. It's an embarrassing ride straight to loser-town.
These days, the Code is only ever brought up or followed in order to defend an act of retribution. Times change, and people/players/leagues/fans evolve. The Code never does.
Logically, it makes no sense. An attack to the head with a hockey stick is not commensurate with showing a slight bit of disrespect to your opponent by way of a slap-shot into an empty net.
In any other place other than a hockey rink, cheap-shotting someone with a weapon would land you in jail. I'm not saying Rielly should go to jail, I'm just pointing out how stupid the defense of this play is.
After thinking about this for a couple days, I think the NHL has to make an example of Morgan Rielly. Anything less than ten games shows they don't really take this kind of thing seriously. The fact that Ridly Greig wasn't severely injured is just pure luck, and shouldn't matter. I think they need to suspend Rielly based on what could have happened. Getting a lesser penalty because you got lucky that you didn't injury a guy who could easily have been hurt badly is ridiculous.
The Code is ridiculous. A slapshot into an empty net shouldn't really upset anyone, and if it does, those people should participate in some heavy self-reflection. There is really nothing dirtier you can do in hockey than smash someone after they score.
It was reckless, it was immature and it was embarrassing. The Code is a joke.