Photo: CBS Sports
Washington Capitals‘ forward Tom Wilson will likely appeal the 20-game suspension that the NHL Department of Player Safety gave him on Wednesday afternoon, head coach Todd Reirden said right before the team’s first road game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.
Reirden says he’s spoken to Tom Wilson, who will be appealing his 20-game suspension.
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) October 4, 2018
A lengthy suspension was expected for Wilson, who has been suspended four times in his past 105 games, but 20 games was a bit of a surprise for everyone. Wilson’s teammates came to his defense Wednesday before the team’s red carpet prior to Washington’s 7-0 home opening win against the Boston Bruins.
Wilson was given a match penalty after delivering a hit to the head to forward Oskar Sundqvist in the Capitals’ 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues in their preseason finale on Sunday. After the game, Blues’ head coach Mike Yeo told reporters that Sundqvist “was not good” and “I would be surprised if he didn’t miss a decent amount of time here.”
Wilson was suspended twice at the beginning of last year, one of which cost him two preseason games and the other costing him the first four regular-season games. He was given a three-game suspension following a collision with Penguins’ forward Zach-Aston Reese, who suffered a broken jaw on the play and had to have surgery, in the second-round series between the Capitals and Penguins last spring.
If the suspension withholds, Wilson will be eligible to return to the Capitals’ lineup right before Thanksgiving.
The appeal of Tom Wilson’s 20-game suspension will be heard by Gary Bettman. If the NHL commissioner doesn’t overturn the decision, it can then proceed to a neutral arbitrator.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 4, 2018
Wilson had an in-person hearing with the Department of Player Safety Wednesday morning and has spent time with the department reviewing hits to avoid the principle’s office.
According to Matt Larkin of the Hockey News, Wilson’s suspension is the ninth-longest in NHL history. He also pointed out that the next time Wilson gets suspended, it could very well be similar to the 41-game suspension former San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres got in 2015. Torres was suspended four times before the NHL handed him that suspension and had been suspended or warned nine previous times. The one before sat him out for 37 games.
The Capitals cannot afford for Wilson to miss half a season, or close to it, and need this suspension to teach him that he can no longer make hits like he has done in the past year.
By Harrison Brown