Washington Capitals rugged forward Tom Wilson returned to the Caps’ lineup on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild following a ruling from a neutral arbitrator that reduced his 20-game suspension to 14 games (technically 16 contests since the hearing was done past 14).
The NHL announced the decision after a six-week appeal process after Wilson blindsided St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist in the pre-season. Back in late October, Wilson appealed the suspension through NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who upheld the 20-game ban where he noted that keeping it at that original length might just “be the only effective way to deter Mr. Wilson’s future ‘bad conduct.”
Just moments after the arbitrator’s ruling was announced, Caps general manager Brian MacLellan revealed that Wilson would dress for his first game of the season that same night.
And when it was time to score his first goal of the season, Wilson pulled … well, a Tom Wilson.
According to Wild insider Michael Russo of the Athletic, Wilson scored at the end of the first period, crashed the net to bury Dmitry Orlov’s pass, which ended up with goalie Devan Dubnyk down and hurt… Dubnyk’s helmet popped off with collision with Wilson and the netminder was clearly shaken up.
You can see the goal in the video above, atop of this article.
And of course, when Wilson is involved, there has to be an element of controversy. The call was something that was never seen; Wilson got the goal and goaltender interference.
It didn’t stop there. In the second period, Marcus Foligno and Wilson dropped the gloves off the face off to get tangled in a fight. Both men decided to engage in a fight, so, this was a clean move by the controversial player...
Before the game, Wilson wanted to make something clear about his reputation, which now, is just funny to read. This is what he told the Washington Post after his suspension was reduced:
“It doesn’t really sit well with me. I never wanted to be put in that category when I grew up playing. I never wanted my name to be associated that way, and at the end of the day, thinking back on it, it’s all happened pretty quick. I never really had that reputation, and all of a sudden, there’s a couple incidents and people are pretty upset.”
There’s a spotlight on that part of the game right now. I think everyone knows that the physical play is definitely going down a little bit; there’s not as many hits, and the game is getting faster and more skilled. When there are those big hits, it becomes such a hot topic that it just gets instantly scrutinized.”
But we all know: Tom Wilson gonna Tom Wilson, and it didn’t take long for him to stir the pot.