So yesterday I took some time to break down Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson’s hit on Boston Bruins defender Brandon Carlo, and speculated on what the League’s Department of Player Safety could be looking at, how they interpret it, and what they could ultimately hand Wilson in regards to his suspension, which you can read here.
Since writing that article DoPS has had their hearing with Wilson, and has announced their decision.
After a lengthy hearing the League suspended Wilson for seven game on the grounds of Boarding Carlo. Now before I go further I need to make it known as there are those who claim that a player can’t be boarded from the front, and this is factually not true. When playing hockey you can be given a boarding penalty if you hit your opponent with enough force to send them into the boards and have an impactful crash into the boards. Doesn’t matter if the hit is from behind, from the side, or from the front. Just because a player has never been suspended until now for boarding someone from the front, doesn’t mean it can’t happen. So maybe stop reading those blogs that like to do tabloid news and play with fancy stats, and read the blogs that actually talk about the hockey.
Now for the suspension itself the League follows through with the fact that this play is boarding and that while they agree with the Capitals argument that this is a common play that does see players that are vulnerable or defenseless get hit because they are legally allowed to be hit on this type of play, however, the League notes that it’s the totality of the hit that Wilson delivers to Carlo that brings it into consideration for disciplinary action.
While Wilson does initially make contact with the shoulder and chest of Carlo first, making the head not the point of contact, it is the fact that Wilson’s hands are up on the play when delivering the hit that raises the concern as it allowed Carlo’s head to become a point of contact and be driven into the boards. Now to clarify, the head was not the target for contact, and was proven by where Wilson’s contact was delivered to initially, but because his hands were up, the head did receive contact after initial contact was made to the chest and shoulder which resulted in the head being hit into the boards.
Best way to sum it up is that Wilson should’ve left his hands down, and keep with the shoulder to chest/shoulder contact. Hands stay down, contact to the head would’ve been minimized, because there is always the possibility of follow through contact, or avoided completely, like it would be in any other time this play would happen.
Now for the suspension itself, Wilson was given a seven game suspension. For many outside of the Capitals fan base this was too little or just right, depending on how you look at it. Within the Caps fan base… well let’s just say there are people who obviously need to take the blinders off, and that’s putting it nicely. One thing of note for the seven game ban is that this is most likely a prorated suspension given how we have a 56 game season and not a standard 82 game season. There have been those who have made the assumption that if this was an 82 game season, Wilson’s suspension would be closer to the 10 to 15 game range given his history. That sounds about right if this were an 82 game season, but due to the circumstances, Wilson received 7 games instead.
Now I gotta get this last bit out of the way, yes you should not be surprised that the suspension will be appealed and not because Wilson wants it appealed, it’s because of the NHL Players Association. We always say that the League doesn’t care about player safety, but the PA is just as guilty of this as well. They wanted Wilson’s 20 game suspension reduced and after taking it the arbitrator, it did. All because at the end of the day the PA wants to make sure their members, the players, get paid their money. No matter the costs to their fellow member’s health and well being that prompted such discipline to take place. But as of now, the seven game suspension stands, and it is deservered.
I look forward to Wilson getting back on the ice after serving his suspension, because I do see a great hockey player when he isn’t making bad decisions, but I hope he takes this time to work with coaches Peter Laviolette and Michael Peca, and work on his continued redefining of his game that was started under Barry Trotz and continued under Todd Reirden. Especially with Peca, who is someone who played with an edge, but always stayed out of trouble when he played. Wilson can learn a lot from him.
As always, I know Tom Wilson is always a hot topic and can bring out the emotions from people, but please be civil in the comments.