As was announced earlier today, NHL Department of Player Safety suspended Tom Wilson 20 games for his Illegal Check to the Head of St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Lundqvist. Now for many, including me, find this to be a bit excessive, but lets take a deeper look at this and get a better understanding of Wilson’s 20 game suspension.
Video Source : NHL Department of Player Safety
As you can see in this video, DoPS demonstrates how Wilson’s hit on Sundqvist is in fact illegal even Sundqvist was elgible to be hit on this play. Now it was noted in this video about Tom Wilson’s suspension history and per the CBA is a repeat offender, as well as the fact that with preseason and postseason included from last season Wilson has been one of most suspended player in a span of 105 games, which is the most in DoPS history. Also coming off the fact that this hit happened 16 games after his suspension for his Illegal Check to the Head of Zach Aston-Reese in last season’s playoffs.
So when you look at this suspension of 20 games for Tom Wilson, at first glance yes you would say it is excessive, but actually watching this video, and listening to the explanation given by DoPS, 20 games is the correct answer.
However, there is one huge question that needs to be answered, and it’s not about Tom Wilson, but about DoPS.
The NHL Department of Player Safety has a history of inconsistency when it comes to plays like this. Now while Wilson does have a history, this suspension also sets a precedent which should send a warning to the entire NHL that if you hit the head you get a lengthy suspension, but it won’t happen. We can have in tonight’s games a very similar play happen with the exact same hit, but will DoPS review it with the same scrutiny like they did with Wilson? Odds are probably not, but they need to be held to the same standard as they hold Wilson when gave him his hearing this morning.
It will be very interesting to see how DoPS will respond if in the very near future a very similar play happens. One would hope that DoPS, maybe not with the same length as Wilson’s as his was deserved, takes the next Illegal Check to the Head just as serious as they did with Wilson.