Russell: Another Tom Wilson hit, another suspension coming?

Chris Russell
September 30, 2018 - 8:36 pm
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Tom Wilson, the hard-hitting and very talented top-line right winger for the Stanley Cup Champions, might not be in uniform Wednesday night as the Caps raise their championship banner and open the regular season.

That’s because of what happened on Sunday at Capital One Arena.

In the second period of the final preseason game, a previously agitated Wilson lowered the boom on the unsuspecting Oskar Sundqvist of the Blues and it was lights out for Sundqvist, who had just released the puck a split-second before contact:

Wilson was assessed a five-minute major/match penalty which results in an automatic ejection.

“Obviously It’s going to be a league review,” Capitals Head Coach Todd Reirden told reporters after the game. “It’s something that’s out of our hands but he’s coming (Wilson) back in the defensive zone and into position, the player (Sundqvist) cuts back into him.”

My belief is that Tom Wilson is going to get suspended by the National Hockey League because he’s a repeat offender many times over and the hit was unnecessary. In addition, it was high.

However, the hit was not “dirty” and with intent, in my view. I felt that way live from high above ice level and after watching the replay a minimum of 20 times.

Wilson does not appear to launch from the ice and makes contact with Sundqvist a split-second after the Blues centerman releases the puck. Wilson does not appear to hit Sundqvist with an elbow and appears to be twisting his body to either lead with his shoulder or to not make complete and total impact.

Several of his teammates defended Wilson, as you would expect. 

The NHL Department of Player Safety is going to look closely at Sundqvist’s head and neck snapping backward, an injury and the fact that Sundqvist didn’t play the rest of the game. Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Blues Head Coach Mike Yeo said that Sundqvist is going to be out for an undetermined amount of time. 

“I don’t really want to comment any further on whether it’s smart or not smart,” Reirden later said about the hit. He can stop there. 

As much as I love Tom Wilson and as much as you adore Wilson, there’s nobody that can reasonably say anything other than it was a poor choice in a preseason game to lower the boom, considering Wilson’s track record.

Wilson was suspended by the NHL in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for this hit on Pittsburg’s Zach Aston-Reese:

It was a hit that I thought was clearly dirty at the time but not worth a three-game suspension in the playoffs, as the league handed down.

Wilson was also suspended for the first four games of the regular season last year by the NHL, for a boarding call in the preseason wrap against St. Louis, which was after another two-game suspension from a dirty hit delivered by Wilson against the Blues in an earlier preseason game last September.

The league might look at just that alone and decide that Wilson deserves a very harsh suspension because of his history against just one specific team and all of the incidents in games that ultimately don’t matter.

If I was a gambling man, and I’m not, my guess is that the NHL will bring the hammer down on Wilson for five games, based on his long track record and not just because of the hit and forceful nature of the collision. 

 

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