Leafs F Spezza suspended six games for kneeing

NEW YORK — Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza was suspended for six games without pay by the NHL on Tuesday for kneeing Winnipeg Jets defenseman Neal Pionk.

In the third period of Sunday’s game between the Jets and Maple Leafs, Pionk had a knee-on-knee hit on Toronto’s Rasmus Sandin. Sandin skated off the ice after the hit on his right knee. Pionk received a two-game suspension for that hit on Monday.

After the hit on Sandin, Spezza drove his left knee into the face of Pionk, who was without a stick and on his knees trying to clear a puck.

Spezza will forfeit $22,500 in salary under the players’ labor deal. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Pionk is a valued piece on their back line for the Jets and will be missed. Through 24 games this season, he is averaging 22:08 time on ice, and has chipped in with two goals and 16 points.

Spezza, though in a different role up front for Toronto, will, too be missed as the Maple Leafs battle for first place in the Atlantic Division with the Florida Panthers.

In 26 games, the veteran has seven goals and 11 points, playing largely in a fourth-line role. The 38-year-old Spezza is averaging 11:58 time on the ice.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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