Tom Wilson‘s 2018-19 season started out with a 20-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Blues’ forward Oskar Sundqvist (which was later reduced to 14 games by an independent arbitrator after he sat out 16 games.)
Since Wilson’s return, the head of the Department of Player Safety George Parros says he has been encouraged by the changes to Wilson’s style of play.
“I think Tom has figured out how to play the game and stay off our radar. I hope it stays that way,” Parros said in an interview with ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski.
In his written decision to uphold the length of Wilson’s 20-game suspension, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he hoped the suspension would be a “wake-up call” for Wilson.
Bettman cited multiple in-person meetings Parros had with Wilson to teach him specifically what the DoPS was looking for to clean up in his play, including a meeting in October 2017 where Parros showed Wilson video examples.
MacLellan admitted he was concerned Wilson's plays that kept getting him fined/suspended might hold him back.
He credited Wilson with educating himself. He hasn't been fined or suspended since. https://t.co/0lwI1GmUrE
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) April 6, 2018
Following that October 2017 meeting, Wilson stayed off DoPS radar until the playoffs, where he was involved in a number of questionable incidents which culminated in a three game suspension for a hit on Zach Aston-Reese.
Parros had yet another meeting with Wilson in Toronto during the offseason, in August 2018, to reinforce the message. Just a few months later, Wilson was suspended 20 games for the hit on Sundqvist.
But Parros seems to indicate that he thinks Wilson has gotten the message this time.
“It’s been evident in the way he’s played this season,” Parros said. “We’ve seen clips of him delivering good clean hits and laying off hits that might have gotten him in trouble before.”
“He certainly doesn’t want to be suspended anymore, and I certainly don’t want to suspend him anymore,” said Parros, who has suspended Wilson four times in the span of 105 games. “We both share the same goal.”
Parros–a man better known for using his fists as an enforcer during his NHL playing career–knocked on wood to avoid jinxing it.
That’s a move that Capitals’ fans can appreciate, given that Wilson has been making his impact more on the score-sheet than with big hits. Wilson has scored 22 goals in only 58 games played.
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) March 26, 2019
Considering Wilson is under a microscope for every borderline hit he throws, the Capitals are hoping that theirthird-highest scorer on the team continues to stay out of DoPS’s hair going forward.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong
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