On Saturday, it was announced that Tom Wilson was suspended two preseason games for a late hit on Robert Thomas of the St. Louis Blues. On Monday, Wilson said that he has no intention of changing the physical nature of his play after the suspension.
Although he has been fined twice for illegal hits before, this was the first suspension of Wilson’s five-season career thus far. Monday, he spoke to the media about his understanding of and concomitant frustration with the league’s decision.
According to Isabelle Khurshudyan of The Washington Post, Wilson said there was no malevolence intended in Saturday’s hit.
“The way I looked at it was, there was no intent to injure; it was a good, hard hit,” Wilson said. “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, and 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.”
“I respect their decision, obviously,” Wilson continued. “I was pretty frustrated with that, for how I play and the amount of hits that I deliver and for how good a body check it really was, and then [it was] tenths of a second late and interference. It’s a fast game, and it’s tough to make those decisions at that speed. At the end of the day, that’s what [the Department of Player Safety] is there for. They’re there to kind of slow it down and look at the plays after they happen. They’re trying to do whatever they can to make the game a safer place, and that was their decision.”
Still, Wilson made it clear that he has no plans to change the way he plays in any dramatic ways.
CSN’s Tarik El-Bashir reports that Wilson said “Every time you make a body check, you’re making a split-second decision. I take pride in the physical nature of my game. I take pride in my body checks. This is my fifth season, and I’ve made a lot of body checks — very clean, hard hits. So I trust myself. Maybe it was a second late or whatever, but I’m going to learn from it and I’m going to continue to play my game, my hard-natured hockey.”
Wilson served the first game of his suspension on Saturday, sitting out during the Caps 4-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. He will finish out his sentence by missing the matchup against the Devils this Wednesday.
As it’s only the preseason, Wilson’s absence shouldn’t be of too much consequence to the Caps; however, it bears keeping in mind that Wilson will be considered a repeat offender and face harsher penalties if the NHL ever again finds it necessary to examine a questionable play.
Head coach Barry Trotz echoed his support for the grittiness that many have come to expect of the winger with the fourth most hits in the league (492). He noted that he didn’t feel it necessary to speak to #43 about his game, especially since Wilson has been known to study hits that may be considered questionable versus those deemed legal by the NHL.
“You don’t want to take all of his game away from him,” Trotz said. “He’s one of the best at getting on people and getting the big hits and turning pucks over and getting people nervous because he’s coming in. He doesn’t want to take that all out of his game. He just wants to understand his parameters and what the league is calling and looking for. But he’s got a smaller window.”
Headline photo: Patrick Smith
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.