The National Hockey League Players’ Association announced on Friday that they have filed an appeal on the behalf of Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson, who was suspended 20 games for his hit on Oskar Sundqvist of the St. Louis Blues.
A date for the appeal hearing has yet to be announced.
Because the suspension is more than six games, Wilson has the right to take his case to a neutral arbitrator if NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman upholds the initial appeal. Per the League: “The standard of review will be whether the League’s finding of violation of the League Playing Rules and the penalty imposed were both supported by substantial evidence.”
Bettman has heard six appeals since 2012, upholding suspensions for Antoine Vermette (10 games, 2017), Dennis Wideman (20 games, 2016) and Shawn Thornton (15 games, 2013) and Patrick Kaleta (10 games, 2013). Daniel Carcillo (10 games to six, 2014) and Raffi Torres (25 games to 21, 2012) both saw reductions in their suspensions after appealing to the Commissioner.
The suspension is Wilson’s fourth in his last 105 games played. In the video explanation, the NHL Department of Player Safety even noted how unprecedented this situation was.
Wilson stands to lose $1,260,162.60 if the 20-game ban is upheld. (His base salary is only $1.1 million after receiving a $5 million signing bonus when he inked his extension over the summer.) At the moment, he won’t be back in the Capitals’ lineup until Nov. 21. But that could change depending on how this appeal goes.
Wilson, who took part in Wednesday’s banner-raising ceremony, will be ineligible to play for the Capitals until the process plays out.
After their 7-0 opening night rout of the Boston Bruins, Wilson’s teammates, as you’d expect, defended the forward.
“Honestly, I think it is garbage, if I’m going to be honest,” Devante Smith-Pelly said via the Washington Post. “We watched a video from the league saying what hits are good and what aren’t. They showed some hits way worse than that, maybe not in force, but in regards to the head that were so-called allowed, and I guess he just had a different rule book. It’s garbage, honestly.”
“I think it’s unfortunate for Tom that the league is making an example out of him. They set the standards. They want to get the dirty stuff out of the game,” Oshie said via ESPN. “At least Tom’s play was on the ice. He was hitting a guy who had the puck milliseconds before. Then you see out there tonight, the sucker punches that [Lars] Eller took. They set the standard. Marchand has a history. We trust that they’ll do what they’re supposed to do and take care of business.”