Brutal hits, retaliation turn Jets vs. Leafs bout into pure chaos

Sunday's game between the Jets and Maple Leafs was absolutely chaotic. (Reuters)
Sunday's game between the Jets and Maple Leafs was absolutely chaotic. (Reuters)

The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Winnipeg Jets spent their Sunday night angry, upset, and violent.

While the two cross-conference teams don’t meet up often, they looked like bitter rivals out for blood – and it really kicked off when Jets defenceman Neal Pionk decided to take out the competition’s most promising blueliner.

Just as Rasmus Sandin was crossing the zone to lay a shot on net, Pionk didn’t go for the body to separate the 21-year-old from the puck, but appeared to stretch out his knee and delivered some devilish contact.

Obviously, Sandin’s teammates were upset and sought some revenge just minutes later.

As veteran forward Jason Spezza essentially dove in to deliver a shoulder to the sprawled-out Pionk on the ice, he broke the seal and allowed so many teammates to stand up for their own that was on the other end of a violent play.

Wayne Simmonds wanted a dancing partner and just saw red, Nick Ritchie desired a little bit of post-whistle action; and all of that came to fruition when Leafs returnee Kyle Clifford completely demolished the bigger player in Jets defenceman Brenden Dillon, and Simmonds finally got his fight.

Logan Stanley then decided to hype up the home crowd after… he lost the altercation?

Even the calm, cool, and collected Toronto captain John Tavares admitted that what was done to Sandin just created a snowball of Leafs wanting revenge.

The hit on Sandin was certainly the gasoline to the already-burning bonfire of physicality between these two clubs. Not even that much earlier, Jets centre Pierre-Luc Dubois decided to throw around Auston Matthews at his will, far away from the play.

After the dust was settled, it was decided that it was the fault of the officiating, for letting it get out of hand when not dealing with any of the dangerous hits.

Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe certainly agreed.

“It looks to me like it’s a five minute major,” Keefe said of the hit on Sandin after his team's 6-3 loss. “It’s a knee-on-knee, a guy gets carried off. But I didn’t get much from the officials in terms of how they saw it. Obviously, they didn’t see it. I think if they see it they probably would have called it differently. The league, I’m sure, will have a look.”

There has been no formal announcement from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on any player hearings coming from this game.

We will all have to wait until March 31 for the next bout between these two teams, which will no doubt be another eventful one.

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