Wednesday, the NHL Department of Player Safety ruled Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson suspended for three games. Wilson will miss Game 4, tomorrow in Pittsburgh Game 5 Saturday in Washington and Game 6 (if necessary).
Washington’s Tom Wilson suspended three games for an illegal check to the head on Pittsburgh’s Zach Aston-Reese. https://t.co/rrZ8Hp3XkE
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) May 2, 2018
Midway through the second period of Game 3, Wilson lined up Pittsburgh Penguins rookie Zach Aston-Reese. Aston-Reese, 23, suffered a broken jaw and concussion. Head of Player Safety George Parros ruled Wilson targeted Aston-Reese’s head under rule 48.1, which allowed for the longer suspension.
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan, who loathes discussing such issues in the media, was clearly exasperated. “It’s a high hit,” Sullivan said. “What else can I say? It’s a high hit.”
The NHL agreed. In its explanatory video, it is noted that the hit made “the head the main point of contact on a hit where such head contact was avoidable.”
The video described the hit this way:
“Wilson pivots to deliver the check with his left shoulder, then elevates up and into the hit, making the head the main point of contact and causing an injury. This is an illegal check to the head.”
Wilson, 24, has been surrounded by controversy since his NHL debut in 2015. Wilson has earned a reputation as a player who will play outside the rules. The NHL sent a stern message in the preseason by suspending him for two games for a late hit. Then, Wilson was suspended for four regular season games after his headshot on St. Blues rookie Sammy Blais.
Wilson, the Capitals 2012 first-round draft pick, has narrowly avoided suspensions twice before in the 2018 playoffs. His hit on Columbus Blue Jackets center Alex Wennberg in Game 1, Round 1 was scrutinized by Parros and the Department of Player Safety. Wilson also shouldered Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin’s head in Game 2, Round 2. The DOPS ruled Dumoulin’s head changed position, thus it was not a suspendable hit.
Wilson has not received an on-ice penalty for any of the above hits, which probably speaks more to on-ice crews and lack of calls in the playoffs than it does the legitimacy of the hits.
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