Washington forward Tom Wilson has been suspended seven games for his hit on Boston defender Brandon Carlo on Friday night.
Wilson had a teleconference with the Department of Player Safety on Saturday evening, which suggested a longer-than-usual suspension was coming.
This will be the fifth suspension of Wilson’s career.
Here is the original hit, which went unpenalized at the time:
Carlo left the game and was briefly hospitalized.
From the NHL:
In the explanation video, the Department of Player Safety seems to agree, at least somewhat, that Carlo was eligible to be hit on the play. They cite the “totality” of circumstances — including the contact with Carlo’s head and the severity of the hit — in rendering judgment.
In 2018, Wilson was suspended twenty games (later reduced to 14) for his high hit on Oskar Sundqvist. He has not been suspended since, though he has been fined. Wilson was not considered a repeat offender in the decision to suspend or not, but his suspension history was factored into the length of his suspension.
Here is DoPS’ full explanation for the suspension transcribed.
As the video shows, Jakub Vrana approaches the Bruins’ zone with Carlo defending at the blue line. He chips the puck into the corner and both players pursue the loose puck on the forecheck as Wilson moves in on support.
Carlo simultaneously bumps Vrana and lifts his stick to try and gain possession of the puck. As he does so, Wilson moves down from his support position to pressure Carlo.
With the puck bouncing in Carlo’s skates as he tries to locate it, Wilson approaches from outside his field of vision and delivers a high hard hit that makes direct contact with Carlo’s head driving it violently into the glass and causing injury. This is boarding.
The boarding rule states: “A boarding penalty shall be imposed on any player who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously.”
On this play, the combination of Carlo’s battle with Vrana, his head being low as he looks for the puck, and Wilson’s angle of approach combine to leave Carlo in a position where he is defenseless. Through no fault of his own, he’s unable to brace for contact, anticipate the hit, or protect himself in any way from Wilson who is approaching from outside his field of vision.
It is important to note that we agree with the Capitals argument that at this point in the play, Wilson could deliver a hit on Carlo that does not result in supplemental discipline. We acknowledge their assertion that it is common for NHL players to legally deliver hits on unsuspecting or vulnerable opponents. While there are aspects of this hit that may skirt the line between suspendable and not-suspendable, it is the totality of the circumstances that cause this play to merit supplemental discipline.
What separates this hit from others is the direct and significant contact to a defenseless player’s face and head causing a violent impact with the glass. This is a player with a substantial disciplinary record taking advantage of an opponent in a defenseless position and doing so with significant force.
Wilson will be eligible to return against the New York Rangers on March 20.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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