The debate over the next day or so is going to be intense.
Did Washington Capitals forward (and resident bad boy) Tom Wilson deliver another dirty hit on a fellow NHLer? And if so, how does the NHL’s Department of Player Safety navigate that minefield?
Wilson was tossed from Friday’s game against the New Jersey Devils after clipping forward Brett Seney, who had just been stopped on a break and had retrieved the rebound, dumping the puck back deep into the Capitals’ zone. With Seney’s back turned, Wilson delivered the glancing blow.
To where? That’s what will need to be looked at over the next 24 hours.
Here’s the hit:
Officially, Wilson was given a five-minute major for an illegal check to the head and a game misconduct. There are several angles of the hit that can be seen. Some look like he caught shoulder, others look like the head was the principle point of contact.
If it’s the latter, buckle in.
Wilson was already suspended this season for 20 games (later reduced to 14 through an arbitrator) for drilling St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist with a blindside hit to the head.
PHT’s Adam Gretz put together a quick rundown of Wilson’s recent history prior to his 20 game suspension earlier this season — four suspensions in 105 games.
- His first suspension came last year in the preseason when he was suspended two preseason games for interference on St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas. While Wilson had carried a reputation for being a physical player that played right on the edge, he had, to that point in his career, only been fined by the NHL so he only missed two preseason games. A very minor and meaningless slap on the wrist.
- But in his first game back from that two-game suspension, he boarded St. Louis’ Samuel Blias, which resulted in the punishment instantly being cranked up to a four-game regular season ban.
- After going through the remainder of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs without another play that reached the level of supplemental discipline, he was given a three-game postseason ban (probably comparable to a six-game regular season suspension) for a hit to the head of Zach Aston-Reese, knocking him out of the playoffs.
A couple things of note on the latest hit: the hit was avoidable, which the DoPS pointed out in the video explanation for Wilson’s 20-game suspension, also stating that he took a poor angle of approach, which seems to be the case again. It’s a blindside hit.
You don’t need the reminder, but Wilson is a repeat offender.
“The hitting aspect of the game is definitely changing a little bit, and I’ve got to be smart out there and I’ve got to play within the rules,” Wilson told the Washington Post during his latest suspension. “And at the end of the day, no one wants to be in the situation that I’m in right now. I’ve got to change something because obviously it’s not good to be out and not helping your team.”
Everything had been going swimmingly for Wilson since returning from his latest suspension. His sixth goal during a five-game goal-scoring streak came prior to his ejection.
Wilson has seven goals and 13 points in nine games and appeared to be keeping his nose clean.
For what it’s worth, Seney was able to return to the game.
Following the game, Seney told reporters that he wasn’t totally sure where the hit caught him.
Capitals coach Todd Reirden weighed in after the game.
Reirden was incensed on the bench when Wilson got the boot and appears he was still fuming after the game.
Washington plays their next game on Sunday afternoon, so George Parros isn’t taking Saturday off.