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Pionk, Spezza to have NHL hearings following separate incidents

[UPDATE: Pionk has been suspended two games while Spezza will sit for 6 games. He is expected to appeal.]

Fireworks in Sunday night’s Jets win over the Maple Leafs has led to a pair of hearings and one fine.

First, Wayne Simmonds has been fined $2,250, the maximum allowable under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for cross-checking Jansen Harkins.

The two hearings will involve Jets defenseman Neal Pionk and Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza, who was offered an “in-person” meeting over Zoom. Pionk’s will take place Monday while Spezza’s will be held Tuesday afternoon.

The option of an in-person hearing for Spezza opens the door for a suspension of five or more games.

Pionk knees Sandin

Pionk was not penalized for laying a knee on Rasmus Sandin just after the Toronto defenseman fired a shot on net. As Sandin moves away, the Jets defenseman changes his angle and catches him knee-on-knee.

Sandin was was favoring his right leg as he skated off the ice. He did not return to the game.

“It looks to me like it’s a five-minute major. It’s a knee-on-knee,” said Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe. “A guy gets carried. Obviously, [the refs] didn’t see it. I think if they see it, they probably would’ve called it differently. The league, I’m sure, will have a look.”

That missed call set the stage for a response by the Maple Leafs.

Spezza retaliates

Minutes after Pionk’s hit on Sandin, the emotions of the Jets and Maple Leafs increased even more.

As a stick-less Pionk attempted to swipe the puck out of the Winnipeg zone, Spezza skated in and bent down low to deliver a hit. What looked like a possible elbowing was about to take place ended with Spezza catching Pionk in the side of the head with his knee.

“Today was just a good hockey game, right? It had a little bit of everything in it,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. “There was some energy and emotion, as there should be. I didn’t feel that last game. It would be unusual because Toronto then and Montreal and Ottawa, but Toronto for sure would be a rivalry as we played them 10 times last year. New Jersey, we haven’t seen for a few years. So I didn’t think that that game was ever ornery. But this game had some leftovers from games past. It got a little heated out there, but that’s good.”


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.