Capitals forward Tom Wilson met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in New York last week to appeal his 20-game suspension. The hearing, according to Sportsnet’s John Shannon, lasted a marathon seven hours. After taking nearly a week to review the transcripts, Bettman has finally made a decision.
Wilson’s request to have his 20-game suspension reduced has been denied. Bettman’s decision comes in a 31-page long PDF.
Commissioner Bettman upholds 20-game suspension for Capitals' Tom Wilson.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) October 25, 2018
“While he also maintained that he made significant contact with Mr. Sundqvist’s body (Tr. 38, 50.), when pressed, Mr. Wilson acknowledged that he could not conclude one way or the other whether Mr. Sundqvist’s head was the main point of contact on the play,” Bettman wrote. “Players are constantly cautioned not to put themselves in the position of ‘missing’ on ‘close hits’ where the result could be (and very often is) an illegal check to the head. Mr. Wilson has seemingly and consistently refused to heed this warning.”
The full decision can be read here.
The NHLPA argued that Wilson should have been suspended eight games.
The NHLPA argued that Tom Wilson should have not gotten any games because he didn't violate Rule 48. But if he did violate it, then it should have just been eight games. @Capitals #NHL pic.twitter.com/k2mD54gOLl
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) October 25, 2018
Though Gary wasn’t buying some of the reasoning. See the footnote.
Wilson was suspended due to an illegal hit to the head on St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist in the Capitals last preseason game.
Wilson was subsequently offered an in-person hearing and suspended 20 games. Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, “[p]layers who repeatedly violate league rules will be more severely punished for each new violation,” the Department of Player Safety said in their findings.
So far, Wilson has served nearly half of his suspension already (eight games). Sundqvist was placed on the Blues LTIR before the season began with a concussion and separated shoulder. He was cleared earlier this week and will play tonight.
If Wilson is unsatisfied with Bettman’s decision, he can appeal to a neutral arbitrator. Recently, the NHL’s neutral arbitrator ruled to reduce Austin Watson’s suspension for domestic violence from 27 games to 18 games.
Headline photo: Bruce Bennett
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