The Capitals Must Make a Stand For Tom Wilson


opinion Last night’s game in Sunrise, Florida was the possibly the Capitals’ worst performance of the season. But it also had other negatives, including the five-minute major and game misconduct handed to 21-year old right Tom Wilson for a boarding call on Florida Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell.

While the hit may look vicious to some, it’s not one that required a major and game misconduct. Wilson plays a physical game and other teams felt the need to complain to NHL Player Safety about it. While Wilson’s hits can do damage, he is not a dirty player. He doesn’t hit to hurt and he has NEVER been suspended or fined in his three-year NHL career. Out of all the possible teams that may have complained,  the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers seem to be the most-likely. This is because in the past, Wilson has laid some big hits against those teams, including a 2013 one on Flyers forward Brayden Schenn, and last year’s big hit on Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky:

Regardless of how vicious and dangerous these hits may look, Wilson is not a dangerous player; and according to the player himself, it’s affecting how he plays the game. As he told’s Chuck Gormley: “Yeah, it’s getting pretty frustrating.  I know when I came into the league three years ago I don’t think that would have been looked at as even close to a penalty.” Wilson was referring to his bearhug of Dallas Stars forward Antoine Roussel after Roussel took Wilson’s teammate (and roommate) Michael Latta to the ice. It was this incident that got fans thinking: Is the NHL really targeting the Caps’ youngster? It seems that Wilson is almost “scared” to hit because it’s as though any hit could trigger a penalty. Here’s some further evidence: in his first 12 games he was handed only three penalties. In his last 13 games, he has been given eight. It’s simply absurd that the NHL and NHL Player Safety are targeting a player that has a clean record, never hits to hurt, and isn’t a dirty player by any means. They should be focusing on players WITH a record, such as Boston’s Zac Rinaldo, who was not suspended for a dirty hit on former Philadelphia teammate Sean Couterier earlier this season.

Nevertheless, it’s time for the Capitals to make a stand for Wilson. Without Wilson playing his game, the Caps have had trouble setting a physical tone in games and owner Ted Leonsis or general manager Brian MacLellan need to make inquiries with the NHL and NHL Player Safety. The Caps’ representative for the National Hockey League’s Player Association (NHLPA), Jason Chimera, could also discuss it with NHLPA President Donald Fehr. While what I’m saying may be a bit extreme at the moment, if Wilson continues to get reprimanded for clean, hard hits, he won’t be able to play to his full potential and if he were to be suspended, all heck would break loose in the DMV. And the Capitals will need Wilson’s physical presence in the playoffs for a deep run.

By Michael Fleetwood

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
This entry was posted in Opinion and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Capitals Must Make a Stand For Tom Wilson

  1. Linda says:

    I couldn’t believe the call. This really has to stop. The kid plays hard but has doe nothing to deserve this treatment!

  2. Les Fork says:

    Agreed! Mr Wilson is a great player and the hits he has made are heavy but not dangers. Tom has been a target sence he has been in the NHL and it needs to stop. Tom Wilson and other players like Tom are needed to protect are stars. He is not a goon and the ref’s need to stop looking at him like he is a goon. We all know they are not going to stop and I’m not sure how they can stop the referees from targeting him. It’s something that Dale Hunter went thru he entire time in the NHL. Only time will tell. Tom is a great player that will only get better with time. Let’s hope the NHL does not screw that up!

  3. Dana says:

    Agree ~ something needs to be done. The refs are obviously targeting Wilson and MISSING other, more serious, penalties on the ice. Other teams are using him as a scapegoat and, sadly, the refs aren’t recognizing this. Come on! The refs need to review some highlighted game films demonstrating their narrow mindedness when it comes to Wilson. Get off his back and let him play hockey!!

Leave a Reply