(PHN) — The NHL Department of Player Safety announced Wednesday Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson was suspended for 20 games due to his blindside headshot on defenseless St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist. Sundqvist laid prostrate on the ice for several minutes afterward.
The Department of Player Safety said Wilson was suspended for a “high forceful hit which made Sunqvist’s head the main point of contact, on a hit where such contact was avoidable and caused an injury.” The Department noted Sundqvist was eligible for a full-body hit through his core but further noted Wilson “took a poor angle of approach,” which made Sundqvist’s head the target despite Sundqvist’s head continued on a consistent path.
The league said the “hit was entirely in Wilson’s control.”
The is Wilson’s fourth suspension in the past 13 months, but also his fourth in a 105 game span, which makes the frequency “unprecedented,” according to the NHL.
Wilson was suspended twice last preseason for malicious hits on St. Louis Blues forwards. The hits occurred in different games. He was suspended for two preseason games for a boarding coal on Robert Thomas. Eight days later, he was suspended for four regular season games after a head hit ton St. Louis prospect Sam Blais.
Wilson narrowly avoided suspension in the playoffs after a controversial hit on Columbus Blue Jacket center Alex Wennberg, in Round 1. In Round 2, Wilson launched himself at the head of Pittsburgh Penguins winger Zach Aston-Reese. Aston-Reese suffered a broken jaw and concussion.
Wilson will forfeit about $1.26 million dollars because of the suspension.
Penguins forward Sidney Crosby spoke about Wilson’s continued poor choices. While Aston-Reese admitted Sunday he didn’t know how he would react when his and Wilson’s paths finally cross. The Penguins host the Capitals in the Penguins season-opening game, Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena. The Capitals begin their season Wednesday night, without Wilson.
As of posting, neither the Capitals or Wilson have released a statement.