The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has suspended Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals four games for his boarding major against Sam Blais of the St. Louis Blues Sunday afternoon.
This is Wilson’s second suspension in the same pre-season. He was suspended two games already for an interference penalty just 10 days ago, also against St. Louis. George Parros and the Department Of Player Saftey released this video explanation of the decision:
I think the NHL dropped the ball big time here. We have a player who’s just come off a two game suspension literally two games ago. They have a brand new season so there’s no reason to look at what they did last year for precedent. THIS is going to be the precedent. THIS is the standard being set for repeat offenders. He literally was in the media last week after his original interference suspension saying:
“The way I looked at it was, there was no intent to injure; it was a good, hard hit. I didn’t run a guy from behind. I did everything I could to get around the guy and finish the space in front of him. I didn’t blindside him. I didn’t hit him from behind. … This is a good body check that’s a little bit late, and I understand that’s not within the rules. I got disciplined for it… To me, I checked off 10 boxes on why that’s a clean body check, and there’s maybe one box that it was a little bit late,” Wilson said. “That’s my job: I go out there, and I create energy for the team.”
To be fair, he also said he respected their decision and does try to say he sees where they’re coming from, but he also goes out of his way to point that all he did wrong was the hit was a teensy bit late. I’ve got news for him. There’s a lot of examples of otherwise “clean” hits on guys who haven’t touched the puck for three seconds. That’s what makes them dirty. As I said before, I was really happy to see the NHL approach that as a suspension worthy problem.
Wilson also said “…I’ve got to finish my checks quicker. I’m fast enough that I can get to players in enough time to finish the check, and if it’s not there, then I have to pass up on the hit.” Who knows? Maybe that’s what he was doing on this boarding penalty two games later. Maybe he thought, OK, all I did wrong on the last one was hit late, so I’d better rush right over on this guy and make sure to plaster him at all costs before he gets a chance to throw the puck away and make me look bad.”
As the video says, he comes at Blais from a terrible angle. Blais is never exposing his shoulder. Wilson had every opportunity to realize he couldn’t possibly throw a clean hit here. His defence to Player Safety in their explanation was that he recognized this and tried to get out in front of Blais to get his shoulder. If he thought he did a good enough job of that to get out of trouble, four games isn’t nearly enough to make him understand. Six games would have been closer.