Gary Bettman Right To Call Out Maple Leafs Utterly Irrelevant Defense of Morgan Rielly

Feb 2, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CANADA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman before the NHL All-Star Skills
Feb 2, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CANADA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman before the NHL All-Star Skills / Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher was recently suspended for five games by the National Hockey League's department of player safety for a nasty elbow to the head of Adam Pelech.

Fans of the team, as well as players and coaches for the organization all pretty much agreed that Gallagher deserved a suspension for his actions. Most would have been content with three games or so but there was hardly a whimper when it was announced Gallagher would miss five games, even though he had not been suspended before in his lengthy NHL career.

The discourse was a little different when Morgan Rielly received his first ever suspension. We all saw the clips by now as Ridly Greig scored into an empty net and then Rielly chased him into the corner before cross checking him in the head.

Rielly, and the NHLPA on his behalf, appealed the five game ban that was handed down by George Parros and the department of player safety. A hearing was held with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman as the Maple Leafs brass pleaded their case that the suspension should be shortened from five games.

In a blunt, and somewhat comical response, Bettman released a statement on his reasoning for keeping the five game suspension and claimed the Maple Leafs defense of Rielly was "utterly irrelevant."

The Maple Leafs, led by Brendan Shanahan and Brad Treliving tried to convince Bettman that since Grieg shot the puck too hard into the empty net, Rielly was justified in trying to injure him by cross checking him in the head.

This is, as Bettman stated, utterly irrelevant and a preposterous attempt to reduce the suspension. Of course, this is the same team that actually spoke publicly about which teams gave them the most respect in the handshake line after a first round playoff exit as if anyone would care so perhaps they are too self involved to realize their defense of Rielly was meaningless.

The NHL's suspension policy is kind of broken and inconsistent to say the least, but they certainly got this one right.