Capitals forward Tom Wilson has long been a notorious NHL offender and an undesirable number one to the league’s Department of Player Safety throughout his polarized career. His controversial style of play is effective in making opponents nervous and infuriating his fans, but sometimes it goes too far and results in injuries.
He had gone nearly two and a half years without formal punishment from the league despite continuing to play with reckless abandonment, because the NHL’s ambiguous rules regarding upper body contact make those kinds of plays difficult to play. process. He finally received justice with a seven-game suspension, which will cost him $ 311,781.61, for tackling Brandon Carlo of the Bruins in a March 5 game.
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As of March 6, no NHL player has been penalized more since Wilson entered the league in 2013. Of his 333 penalties (regular season only) during that span, more than 20 percent have been greater (72). . They total 1,052 minutes, including 16 fouls and two match penalties. Only three other players (Antoine Roussel, Cody McLeod and Evander Kane) have more than 700 penalty minutes. Again, these numbers don’t even include his postseason misconduct.
Wilson has now been suspended five times and fined twice by the league.
Regardless of one’s opinion of Wilson’s work, one thing cannot be debated: he has repeatedly placed himself in situations worthy of scrutiny. Here’s a general timeline that recaps each of those instances.
Wilson spent so much time between penalties not because he had cleaned up his performance, but because he hadn’t done enough to get the NHL to pay attention. Then came his high blow on Carlo.
Carlo’s head hit the glass of the end tables after Wilson ran a check with his shoulder. Carlo had to quit gambling and was later transferred to a Boston hospital. No penalty was issued, further infuriating the Boston bench.
The NHL announced a hearing with Wilson the next day. The league later issued a seven-game ban.
“While there are aspects of this shot that can border the line between suspendible and non-suspendible, it is the totality of circumstances that made this play warrant additional discipline,” said the Department of Player Safety. “What separates this shot from the others is the direct and significant contact with the face and head of a defenseless player, causing a violent impact with the glass. This is a player with a substantial disciplinary record who takes advantage of a adversary who is in a defenseless position and doing it with great force “.
Despite bona fide discussions in the offseason about trying to modify a safer style of play, Wilson started the 2018-19 season where he has been frequently in recent years: in trouble with the DPoS. In the Capitals’ final preseason game, Wilson surprised Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist with a big hit. Wilson received a game penalty and Sundqvist suffered a concussion and shoulder injury.
As the hockey world called on the NHL to send a strong message once and for all, the league imposed the harshest penalty to date against Wilson, suspending him for the first 20 games to start the regular season. The DPoS cited his repeat offender status and an “unprecedented frequency of suspensions” to justify the longest suspension in the NHL since 2015. Wilson lost $ 1,260,162.60 in salary.
Wilson drew scrutiny on four (!) Separate occasions during the 2018 Stanley Cup Race of the Capitals. The first was during Game 1 of the first-round series against the Blue Jackets when he was penalized for charging Alexander Wennberg. The Player Safety Department took a look, but ultimately ruled against supplemental discipline because replay angles “couldn’t determine whether Wennberg’s head was the main point of contact.” Wilson received no hearing.
Then Wilson dropped Penguins defender Brian Dumoulin from Game 2. Dumoulin had been skating in front of Wilson, stopping at the last second to avoid a hit from an incoming Alex Ovechkin. Wilson fulfilled his check, hitting Dumoulin on the head, but was not penalized. Wilson explained that the hit was the result of Dumoulin’s last-second maneuver. He again avoided an audience with the Police Department.
The most egregious, and the one that ultimately gave Wilson a three-game suspension, occurred during Game 3, when a blow to the head from Zach Aston-Reese of the Penguins, which broke the rookie’s jaw and caused a concussion. .
Wilson argued that the point of contact was Aston-Reese’s shoulder and, depending on the angle of the replay, it might not be conclusive whether it constituted an illegal head check. under current rules.
Wilson provoked the suspension talk again during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final, slamming into Jonathan Marchessault’s blindside. The Golden Knights playoff leading scorer, far behind the play, had dropped the puck early enough for Wilson to relax. The NHL eventually forgave Wilson again.
Wilson was suspended twice before the 2017-18 season began. He sat in two shows, the NHL’s equivalent of a slap on the wrist, for a September 22 hit over the Blues’ Robert Thomas.
Eight days later, Wilson received the harshest penalty of his career to date after tackling Sam Blais in another exhibition against the Blues, resulting in a higher penalty and in-game misconduct. The DoPS was tough on Wilson, suspending him for the first four games of the regular season, the only significant suspension Wilson has served so far. He lost $ 97,560.96 in gambling wages.
December 2016: John Moore
Devils defender John Moore had to be stretched out of the ice after Wilson hit him from behind, pushing Moore onto the boards head-on. Wilson was not penalized. Moore was diagnosed with a concussion and missed 17 games. The DoPS did not organize a hearing.
April 2016: Conor Sheary
Wilson was saved from suspension but was fined $ 2,900 (the maximum allowed under the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement) for a knee-to-knee collision with Penguins forward Conor Sheary during Game 1 of his second-round series in 2016, Wilson deliberately went out of his way to make contact with Sheary, who was suffering but remained in the game. Wilson was not penalized.
April 2016: Nikita Zadorov
Wilson’s April 1 hit on Avalanche defender Nikita Zadorov split the fair versus dirty discussion in half. As Zadorov tracked behind the net, Wilson hurtled across the ice and lit up his unsuspecting target. Zadorov suffered a concussion but played in each of Colorado’s remaining four games. Wilson, who was not penalized during the game, did not receive a suspension.
December 2015: Brian Campbell
Wilson was ejected in the third period of a Dec. 10 game against the Panthers by interning defender Brian Campbell. That was his only penalty as the DoPS determined the hit was not worthy of a suspension. Campbell didn’t miss a game.
December 2015: Curtis Lazar
Wilson received a game penalty for a blow to the head from Senators forward Curtis Lazar, but the NHL later overturned it before Wilson served a mandatory one-game suspension. The Capitals had argued that the head contact was accidental, instead caused by an initial check on the hip. The league never publicly explained its decision and the game’s penalty was erased from Wilson’s record.
April 2015: Lubomir Visnovsky
Wilson received a lesser charge for leveling Islanders defender Lubomir Visnovsky in Game 4 of the Capitals first-round playoff series in 2015, a play that injured Visnovsky, a serial concussion victim, and kept him up. outside of the remaining three games in the series. Wilson was no longer disciplined.
December 2013: Brayden Schenn
Wilson’s first encounter with the NHL disciplinarians involved a hit on Dec. 17 from the Flyers’ Brayden Schenn, when Wilson charged from the blue line and leveled Schenn in the end tables. Wilson was expelled and the play triggered a telephone hearing with the Department of Public Safety. The league ultimately decided against a suspension and instead released a lengthy video explaining its decision to pardon Wilson.
This article has been updated since its original publication to reflect Wilson’s complete disciplinary information.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.