Tom Wilson was suspended seven games by the NHL on Saturday night for his hit on Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo. The Capitals reacted to Tom’s mega-ban after their morning skate.
Alex Ovechkin pulled no punches in criticizing the league.
"We'll see what's going to happen after tonight's game, but overall, if we're going to get two points, it's going to be a very good road trip."
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 7, 2021
“First of all, no one wants a hurt player,” Ovechkin said. “I think it’s kind of joke because we was talking to refs after the first period and he said like ‘I don’t think it was even two minutes. It was hard hit.’ On the ice, no call on the play. Yeah, the player get hurt and it sucks, but I think when you play hockey you have to be ready for that. You have to know who’s on the ice.”
Ovechkin later compared and contrasted Wilson’s hit with Leo Komarov’s dangerous hit on Lars Eller. Komarov was given a five-minute major for boarding. The hit sent TigerHorseMoose to the locker room and caused him to miss several games.
“Like you see a couple things on Eller hit,” Ovechkin said. “He get hurt. Player get five minutes and nothing after that.
“It’s kind of a joke how they make the rules,” Ovechkin added. “On the ice, even the ref said like ‘it’s not two minutes. It’s a [clean] hit’ and the guy gets seven games. In a short season, it’s tough. I think right now the situation is we just have to play. Different players are going to get ice time so they have to be prepared and play much harder.”
Like Ovi, Lars Eller compared Komarov’s hit to Wilson’s. He said that the NHL’s decision-making “doesn’t really add up.”
“Obviously, I feel like in some ways, if you try to compare the two (hits), Tom is hitting a guy square, body-to-body, facing up ice,” Eller said. “I was getting hit from behind. I didn’t make a sudden movement. I didn’t turn at the end. The guy could see my numbers all the way, hitting me into the boards. There’s two different outcomes. I was fortunate enough to not get a concussion, but I easily could have. The outcome could have been very different. Unfortunately for Carlo, he had a bad outcome for the hit, but the intention, but what led up to the hit, was worse for me because I was in a vulnerable position facing the glass. ”
TJ Oshie agreed with his captain.
“I personally don’t think the hit is suspendable,” Oshie said. “I feel like I get hit like that all the time.”
He added, “The hit itself is a pretty common hit. It happens quite a bit. Guys rarely get fined for it, let alone seven games. Tom’s obviously passed the time (of being a repeat offender). He’s changed his game and done a really good job. It’s tough but I stand behind Tom and his intentions. I don’t think he was intending to hurt anybody. It’s a burden being bigger and stronger than most of the guys.”
Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette believes that the decision to suspend Tom on such a play is norm-shattering. TSN’s Frank Seravalli revealed on Saturday that Wilson was the first player to be suspended for boarding on a hit that wasn’t from behind.
“There was a hit that was made player-to-player looking at each other,” Laviolette said. “The player had the puck. It was a forceful hit. To me, you mention the seven games, it’s if the hit is suspendable. We’ll now deal with the repercussions of Tom out of the lineup for seven games but I certainly think this will open things up to any hit that is forceful and impactful to the player that has the puck. Most players, using the terminology under boarding, most players are somewhat defenseless when they have the puck along the boards. They see things coming at them. They have to deal with the puck. They have to make a play. I watched some videos of some of the best hits in the league and there were so many of these hits and they may have caused injury or maybe they didn’t. But the hit itself, now that it’s a suspendable hit, we’ll try to talk to our players about it and educate a little bit. Up until this point, I think everybody thought that hitting somebody square up with the puck was a hit that was in the game. We’ve got to move past it. We’re without Tom for seven games and we have to get ready to win a game tonight.”
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