It’s opening night for the Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals. An opening night unlike any other for Capitals fans world-wide, as they greet the new day with great joy and anticipation in seeing the franchise’s first championship banner hoisted to the rafters. But for Tom Wilson and Washington Capitals front office staff, including Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan, they had an other, much less celebratory start to the day.
Wilson and the Capitals contingency traveled to New York City Wednesday morning for a hearing with NHL’s Department of Player Safety. Probably the very last thing they wanted to do on this “banner” day.
The reason for the quick trip to the “Big Apple” was to argue Wilson’s case for the hit he made on St. Louis Blues centerman Oskar Sundqvist in last Sunday’s preseason final against the Blues. The verdict: Wilson will be suspended twenty games for an illegal check to the head. He will be able to return to games on November 21, at home versus the Chicago Blackhawks.
Tom Wilson’s suspension will cost him $1,260,162.60 of his salary this season.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety (DOPS) released its verdict Wednesday afternoon, along with a video explaining their reasoning:
Washington’s Tom Wilson suspended twenty games for an Illegal Check to the Head on St. Louis’ Oskar Sundqvist. https://t.co/ojQ4yN6oFN
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) October 3, 2018
The DOPS stated “Including preseason and postseason, this is Wilson’s fourth suspension in his last 105 games, an unprecedented frequency of suspensions”.
Wilson’s in-person hearing with the Department of Player Safety in New York lasted less than two hours.
Per Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post, It’s unclear if Wilson plans to appeal the suspension. He has 48 hours to provide written notice of an appeal to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, but it’s highly unlikely Bettman would overturn the Department of Player Safety’s decision. Wilson could then appeal to a neutral arbitrator, and in both cases, Wilson remains suspended during the appeal process (unless the full term of his suspension has run).
Capitals General Manager Brian Maclellan was asked about the hit on Tuesday during his annual preseason media session. MacLellan said he didn’t have an opinion either way, and wanted to hear the league’s stance on the play before rendering his own opinion. Maclellan also stated that he and Wilson watch video of hits from around the league together, and discuss other incidents that occur around the league, all to gain a better understanding of today’s rules.
NHL Dept of Player Safety sourc, on Tom Wilson’s 20-game suspension: “There’s no formula for someone that’s been suspended this often. We’ve never had a player in the modern era that’s been suspended this much, this frequently. Sixteen games ago, he hit another guy in the head.”
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) October 3, 2018
Maybe the most troubling aspect of the decision is the current rate of escalation for the length of Wilson’s suspensions, which could progressively increase over the remainder of his career. Wilson just signed a six-year, $31 million contract extension back on July 27.
By Jon Sorensen