Bettman Upholds Wilson Suspension

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The NHL announced on Thursday afternoon that Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson‘s 20-game suspension has been upheld by Commissioner Gary Bettman. In a 31-page decision, Bettman said the suspension was warranted. While there was no immediate response from the NHLPA or the Capitals, Wilson can now appeal the suspension to an independent arbitrator within 7 days. 

Wilson, who signed a six-year contract worth $31 million ($5.17 million AAV) with the Capitals on July 27, was ejected from the team’s 5-2 win in their preseason finale against the St. Louis Blues for an illegal check to the head of Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist.

Wilson, 24, met with commissioner Gary Bettman to appeal his suspension last week.  The hearing lasted seven hours long with breaks included in that timeframe.


Wilson, along with NHLPA, filed the appeal. Bettman, himself, heard the appeal on behalf of NHL and issued the decision. Wilson can still file an appeal with an independent arbitrator. Two previous cases have made it to independent arbitrators and both had suspension terms ultimately reduced.

On the behalf of Wilson, the NHLPA argued that Wilson didn’t violate any NHL rules and only should’ve gotten a suspension of eight games.

Wilson will be eligible to return on Wednesday, November 21 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The decision of the appeal can be found here.

Wilson had a breakout season last year, tallying 14 goals, 35 points, and a +10 rating in 78 games and five goals, 15 points, and a +10 rating in 21 playoff games while playing on the top line with forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin.

With Wilson out of the lineup, Capitals’ forward Brett Connolly started the season skating in his spot on the top line with Kuznetsov and Ovechkin. Forward Chandler Stephenson got a few games in on Wilson’s spot but forward Devante Smith-Pelly has been playing there the past two games.

Part of the reason why Wilson was given such a big suspension initially was the frequency of his suspensions. The Department of Player Safety pointed out when they announced the details of the suspension that this was Wilson’s fourth suspension in his past 105 games and second in his past 16.

Wilson played a big role during the Capitals’ Stanley Cup run last season, killing penalties, creating offense, opening up space for his teammates, and setting the tone with his physical play.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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9 Responses to Bettman Upholds Wilson Suspension

  1. Jon Sorensen says:

    Bettman is a tool.

  2. J says:

    Bettman is Trash

  3. DayOne Caps Fanatic says:

    Glad we all agree … Mr. Buttman has been an Ovechkin-hater and a Cap-hater all along.

  4. Diane Doyle says:

    The whole 7 hour hearing, the subsequent week to deliberate, only to uphold the original suspension was a colossal waste of time. He could have saved time by just upholding the original suspension to begin with. (10 games would have been fair but 20 is ridiculous)

  5. DayOne Caps Fanatic says:

    Now folks can understand what an Ovechkin-hater and a Caps-hater Gary Buttman is
    So he “upheld” the twenty-game suspension for, at most, a 5-game violation
    Wilson will of course appeal to the “neutral party”
    It’s a pretty good landmark case: Should the NHL, or any other major sport, or any Corporation s single-out” a player or players they don’t like and treat them harshly?

    It’s an ugly precedent.
    In any civil court case, such a show of blatant favoritism would not pass muster
    Juries must argue the merits of every case, and can’t heap on extra sentencing
    Because they “don’t like” the defendant or he’s been before the court more than once
    Sometime later this season there will be a similar event –
    Player “X” will angle carelessly across an enemy defense and get buried – as he should be – by a defender or a back-checker. Anyone not named Wilson or Ovechkin will get 5 games, at most

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