On Friday, Washington Capitals senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan spoke to the media at the halfway point of the condensed 56-game 2020-21 season. He discussed forward Tom Wilson’s seven-game suspension and why it’s a frustrating situation.
MacLellan mentioned there was a “sense of frustration” throughout the team and organization regarding the suspension. The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced on March 6 that Wilson would be suspended for seven games for boarding defenseman Brandon Carlo in the team’s 5-1 loss to the Boston Bruins the night before. Wilson was not given a penalty on the play.
“There’s nobody [who] knows the details of body checking and what the league is looking for and evaluating on body checking more than Tom,” MacLellan said, adding, “We get into a situation that doesn’t exactly fit into a suspendable hit situation.”
He said “everyone gets frustrated” among the player, the coach, and management. MacLellan said, “The result of the hit is not what you want…maybe Tom got punished for that.”
“From my point of view, there [are] hits we question the league, especially on [forward T.J.] Oshie,” he said. MacLellan expressed how there have been times they haven’t “liked the result”, which have ensued injuries.
“When it comes back that it’s not a suspendable hit, we get frustrated there too. This category of totality of the circumstances is new…I see you know, where they are trying to fit ‘was it a suspendable hit or was it not a suspendable hit’ into that category, and so I think basically we are frustrated with it.”
When asked why they did not pursue to appeal his suspension, MacLellan said he had conversations with the Players’ Association, Wilson, and Wilson’s agent on “whether it would make sense” to, but time played a factor. “You have to go through Gary Bettman, the commissioner first to get to an independent arbitrator..by the time it went through..he would have served his suspension.”
By Della Young