On Friday, Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan spoke about negotiations on a new contract with Alex Ovechkin. He also shared a nuanced take on Tom Wilson’s hit on Brandon Carlo that resulted in a seven-game suspension.
Speaking for two minutes on the hit, MacLellan said multiple times that the entire organization was “frustrated.”
“I think there’s probably a sense of frustration throughout our team and our organization,” MacLellan began. “I’ve spent a lot of time with Tom. There’s nobody that knows the details of bodychecking and what the league is looking for and evaluating on bodychecking than Tom. He’s very detailed in it.
“So we get into a situation that doesn’t exactly fit into a suspendable hit situation. I think everybody feels frustrated. The player gets frustrated. The coach gets frustrated. Management gets frustrated.
“I think the result of the hit is not what you want. I think maybe Tom got punished for that.
“From my point of view, there are hits that we question the league on, especially Oshie, where we say ‘we don’t like the result here. It resulted in an injury and what are your thoughts on it?’ When it comes back that it’s not a suspendable hit, we get frustrated there too.
“This category of ‘totality of the circumstances‘ is new. I see where they’re trying to fit – was it a suspendable hit or not a suspendable hit – into that category.
“Basically, we’re frustrated with it.”
The Oshie hits MacLellan could be referencing include a slew foot by Josh Morrissey, a head shot by Evgeni Malkin, a headshot by Joe Thornton, and a board by Warren Foegele that knocked the scappy Capitals forward out of the 2019 postseason. All of those hits went without supplemental discipline from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
Previously, Alex Ovechkin had previously called the NHL’s suspension of Wilson “a joke” while Lars Eller openly questioned DoPS’ uneven discipline while comparing a Leo Komarov board he absorbed earlier in the year. Oshie shared his opinion that it was not a suspendable hit.
“There was a hit that was made player-to-player looking at each other,” Capitals head coach Peter 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.”
As for why Wilson opted not to pursue an appeal, MacLellan said it was because Wilson did not believe it would accomplish anything.
“I think discussions with the Players’ Association, Tom, and Tom’s agent whether it would make sense – I think the appeal takes a pretty lengthy time and you have to go through Gary Bettman first to get to an independent arbitrator,” MacLellan said. “So they felt by the time that went through his suspension would be up and he would have served his suspension.”
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