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5 longest suspensions in Maple Leafs history: The Countdown

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Photo credit:Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
2 months ago
Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly is expected to be handed a substantial suspension on Tuesday, after delivering a crosscheck to the side of the head of Ottawa Senators forward Ridly Greig. Rielly wasn’t happy with Greig after the 21-year-old decided to take a clapper into the empty net on Saturday night to seal the victory for the Sens.
Regardless of where you stand on the spectrum of hockey violence, the unwritten code and if Rielly’s actions were justified, the NHL Department of Player Safety doesn’t care and they are about to come down hard on the Leafs blueliner.
For this week’s Countdown, let’s go down a rabbit hole of past Maple Leafs who have also had the book thrown at them by the league. Here are the five longest suspensions in Leafs history:

Tie Domi – 11 Games

Some of us remember this better than others. Leafs forward Tie Domi was suspended for a total of 11 games, after delivering a nasty elbow to New Jersey Devils defenseman Scott Niedermayer’s head during Game 4 of the 2000-2001 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Domi sat for three playoff games and once the Devils rallied and eliminated the Leafs, Domi had to sit out an additional eight games to start the 2001-2002 season.

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There was just 7.4 seconds left in Game 4 when Domi delivered the shot. Leafs netminder Curtis Joseph was asked about how Domi was handling everything and Cujo described Domi as quiet and remorseful.

David Clarkson – 10 Games

When the Maple Leafs signed David Clarkson back in the summer of 2013, half of Leafs fans thought he was going to be the next Wendel Clark and the other half knew immediately this had ‘bad idea’ written all over it. Clarkson signed with the Leafs for seven years and $36.7 million total, despite only producing 24 points the season before, in 48 games and a career-high 46 points the season before.
The Leafs needed Clarkson’s edge, but unfortunately, his tenure in Toronto went over the edge early after Buffalo Sabres tough guy John Scott decided he was going to try and kill Leafs star Phil Kessel in a preseason game as Clarkson sat on the bench. The puck dropped, Scott went after Kessel, Phil tried his best to chop Scott down, meanwhile, Clarkson jumped over the boards and tried to save the day:

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Unfortunately for Clarkson and Leafs fans, this was basically all he was known for as it didn’t work out in Toronto for the rugged winger. With 15 goals over two seasons, Clarkson had almost as many suspended games as goals while he was in Toronto.

Borje Salming – 8 Games

The late great Borje Salming was suspended during the 1986-87 season for a total of eight games after admitting in a newspaper article that he had previously used cocaine. A very popular drug during these times and something the league came down on several players for.
Salming missed the first eight games of the season and ended up appearing in 56 games, recording 20 points. Salming was also fined the maximum of $500 by the NHL and his initial suspension was the entire season, however, the league shortened the penalty after meeting with Salming and the Maple Leafs brass. The Leafs great wasn’t the only one dabbling back then as he was the third player to be suspended for illegal drug use in the NHL, following former St. Louis defenceman Ric Nattress and former New York Rangers right-wing Don Murdoch.

Tie Domi – 8 Games

Domi makes his second appearance on the list after throwing a nasty sucker punch to the face of New York Rangers defenseman Ulf Samuelsson. Samuelsson was known for being one of the dirtiest players in the league and it’s pretty clear Domi wanted revenge with this sucker punch that took the NHL world by storm. Be pre-warned, it’s not for the faint of heart:
Domi received an eight-game ban in 1995 and stated that Samuelsson was pestering him to fight just moments before he turned around and went full ‘Johnny Flamingo – One Shot Bingo’.

Jason Spezza – 6 Games

Not someone anyone expected on this list, Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza was initially suspended for six games after delivering a headshot to Winnipeg Jets defenseman Neal Pionk, however, the penalty was then reduced to four games shortly after by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Pionk had injured Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin on the previous play and Spezza was out for blood:

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The incident occurred back in December of 2021, as the Leafs/Jets rivalry started to heat up drastically and it seemed like the games were becoming more intense and more violent with each matchup. Worth noting that Pionk was also suspended for two games for his hit on Sandin, which again, was the reason why Spezza wanted revenge.
There we have it folks, a walk down memory lane as the Maple Leafs have received some hefty suspensions over the years. While Rielly’s been great since joining the Leafs back in 2013-14, this side of the history books is likely somewhere he was looking to avoid.

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