Leafs’ Spezza handed 6-game suspension for kneeing Jets’ Neal Pionk

The NHL has suspended Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza six games for kneeing Winnipeg Jets defenceman Neal Pionk during a game Sunday.

Spezza hit Pionk in the head with his knee during Toronto’s chaotic 6-3 loss in Winnipeg during the third period as the Jets defenceman attempted to clear the puck away with his hand.

Spezza was not assessed a penalty on the play and the Jets say Pionk was placed in concussion protocol after the hit.

Spezza had an in-person hearing with the league Tuesday and in their video explaining the suspension the NHL’s department of player safety called the hit “reckless and retaliatory.”

Spezza will forfeit US$22,500 in salary.

Pionk received a two-game suspension on Monday for a knee-on-knee hit with Maple Leafs defenceman Rasmus Sandin.

No penalty was called on the play.

Earlier, the Maple Leafs added Sandin and forward Mitch Marner to the injured reserve list and loaned forward Joey Anderson to their AHL affiliate.

The Maple Leafs also recalled forward Alex Steeves and defencemen Alex Biega and Kristi─üns Rub─½ns from the Toronto Marlies.

Marner hasn’t played since colliding with teammate Jake Muzzin Friday at practice.

The Maple Leafs did not provide specifics on injury details or expected absence length in their morning Twitter post. Toronto was scheduled to host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.

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