The NHL has more to say about Tom Wilson’s hit and suspension

It remains a controversial decision in the eyes of Ovechkin, the Capitals and some fans.


On Saturday, the National Hockey League announced that its Department of Player Safety had suspended Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson for seven games. 

Wilson, who therefore got the fifth suspension of his career, was banned for boarding Boston Bruins defenseman Brando Carlo on Friday. The poor blue liner had to be taken to the hospital following the hit. 

When the league explained its reasoning behind the lengthy suspension, it said this: “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,” the Department of Player Safety explainer video states. “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 who is in a defenseless position and doing so with significant force.”

On Monday during his 31 Thoughts podcast on Sportsnet, Elliotte Friedman revealed what else what says behind close doors by the NHL when it came to Wilson’s hit and suspension. 

“The league just felt the totality of it all was illegal,” he said.

So, clearly, the NHL was confident in its decision even if the Capitals and several fans believe the hit wouldn’t be discussed if anyone other than Wilson made it.

“I think the most interesting thing I found is that there are a lot of people that believe he only got suspended because he’s Tom Wilson,” Friedman said. “That if it was just about any other player in the NHL who delivered that hit we wouldn’t be talking about anything. I think the Capitals believe that. You heard Peter Laviolette say it. You heard Ovechkin call it a joke.”

It would have been shocking for the Caps to say anything different about the hit and suspension. Friedman added this: 

“This is my guess: The people in the NHL Department of Player Safety said, ‘This is not a Rule 48,’” Friedman said. “Then when they started thinking about it, they looked at it and said, ‘We don’t like this, is there anything else it is.’ If you read Rule 41, which is boarding, it’s there. You can make that argument. I think that’s exactly what happened.”

Wilson would be eligible to return March 20 against the New York Rangers. He has scored 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 21 games this season.