It may come as a slight surprise to some but the Washington Capitals are vigorously defending their serial headhunter, Tom Wilson who was ejected for a blindside hit on Brett Seney late in the second period of the Capitals 6-3 win over the New Jersey Devils, Friday night. Wilson immediately received a match penalty and the Capitals organization immediately began their defense.
As Seney laid injured on the ice.
UPDATE 11:00 a.m.: The NHL announced Wilson will not be suspended for the hit.
During the second period intermission, Capitals TV analyst Alan May said, “That’s embarrassing that it’s even a call; a two-minute penalty, but let alone a five-minute penalty. I think it’s disgusting. Really, the Capitals should be upset as an organization, top to bottom. There’s no way [it’s a penalty].”
And here is the hit and Capitals locker room reaction, including coach Todd Reirden who said, “I’m having a really tough time with this one.”
But Reirden’s tough time wasn’t a reference to being disappointed in his player, his “tough time” was that a penalty was called. Seriously. Here is the full locker room reaction and Reirden’s postgame comments, too:
With respect to a lot of good people in and around the Capitals organization, the only thing embarrassing is the employment of Tom Wilson. The hockey community shamed the Pittsburgh Penguins for paychecks to Matt Cooke, nearly a decade ago and those ended. To their credit, the Penguins responded appropriately.
The Penguins did not argue that headshots were not penalties or that avoidable contact was “incidental.”
The Capitals signed Wilson, 24, to a six-year, $31 million contract this summer. Their 2012 first-round pick has been coming into his own, offensively. He had 13 points (7g, 6a) in nine games before the hit.
While most players can go seasons, or an entire career without delivering such a hits, Wilson could not go 10 games without delivering a sneaky shot. He lasted a total of 25 periods before he again lost his head and put his shoulder into someone else’s head.
Every replay angle shows an entirely avoidable contact. If their feet became tangled, Veney wouldn’t have laid on the ice, dazed. Instead, Wilson took the opportunity to plow through the shoulders, head, and neck of an unsuspecting player who was not eligible to be hit.
Since an independent arbitrator reduced Wilson’s 20 game suspension, which he received for a vicious headshot on Oskar Sundqvist in the preseason, to 14 games, the NHL may be forced to abide by that formula. The arbitrator ruled the NHL’s suspension was too harsh because the league applied a multiplier of 3x because it was Wilson’s fourth suspension. The arbitrator reduced the multiplier to 2x.
If the NHL uses a 3x multiplier on this suspension, it could be 42 games.
The NHL called Wilson’s rate of suspensions “unprecedented,” in October. It now appears Wilson is going deeper into uncharted territory, even if the Capitals don’t think it was a penalty.
Re: Wilson: Late hit with puck long gone. It served no hockey purpose. Blindside hit on a defenseless player. It was a predatory drive-by hit. Wilson does that sort of thing serially. BTW, the head needn't be the principle contact point to be a dirty hit.
— Paul Stewart (@PaulStewart22) December 1, 2018