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NHL reduces Spezza suspension from 6 to 4 games

After a Dec. 14 hearing, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman upheld Jason Spezza’s suspension for kneeing Neal Pionk in the head. However, after that hearing, the Spezza suspension was reduced from six games to four.

Spezza suspension reduced from six games to four

With that, Jason Spezza could play for the Toronto Maple Leafs as soon as their Saturday (Dec. 18) game against the Canucks in Vancouver.

You can read the full ruling from Gary Bettman in that PDF. In short, it seems like Neal Pionk missing less time than possibly expected after entering concussion protocol helped reduce the Spezza suspension.

(The NHLPA and Spezza’s reps noted his long career without run-ins with the Department of Player Safety, too.)

Check out the initial Spezza suspension ruling, including that hit on Pionk, in the video above this post’s headline.

In Neal Pionk’s case, he received a two-game suspension for kneeing Rasmus Sandin.

As you can see from this video (which includes those hits, but also more), that Dec. 5 Maple Leafs - Jets game got pretty out of control.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.