Washington forward Tom wilson has been suspended seven games for his hit on the Boston defender Brandon carlo Friday night.
Wilson had a teleconference with the Department of Player Safety Saturday night, which suggested a longer-than-usual suspension was looming.
This will be the fifth suspension of Wilson’s career.
Here is the original hit, which was not sanctioned at the time:
Carlo left the game and was briefly hospitalized.
From the NHL:
In the explanatory 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 the circumstances, including the contact with Carlo’s head and the severity of the blow, when making their judgment.
In 2018, Wilson was suspended twenty games (later reduced to 14) for his high hitting on Oskar Sundqvist. He has not been suspended since, although 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 the full explanation of DoPS for the transcribed suspension.
As the video shows, Jakub Vrana is approaching the Bruins’ zone with Carlo defending on the blue line. He places the puck in the corner and both players chase the loose puck into the bow check as Wilson leans in for support.
Carlo simultaneously strikes Vrana and raises his cane to try to get hold of the disc. As he does so, Wilson moves down from his support position to put pressure on Carlo.
With the puck bouncing off Carlo’s skates as he tries to locate it, Wilson approaches from out of his field of vision and launches a powerful blow that makes direct contact with Carlo’s head that plunges him violently into the glass and injures him. This is boarding.
The boarding rule states: “A boarding penalty will be imposed on any player who slows or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a way as to cause the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously.”
In this play, the combination of Carlo’s battle with Vrana, his head lowered as he searches 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 is unable to prepare for contact, anticipate the blow, 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 Capitals’ argument that at this point in the play, Wilson might hit Carlo that does not result in supplemental discipline. We acknowledge your claim that it is common for NHL players to legally hit unsuspecting or vulnerable opponents. While there are aspects of this shot that can border the line between suspendible and non-suspendible, it is the totality of circumstances that make this work worthy of additional discipline.
What differentiates this shot from the others is the direct and significant contact with the face and head of a defenseless player causing a violent impact with the glass. This is a player with a substantial disciplinary record who takes advantage of an opponent in a defenseless position and does so with great force.
Wilson will be eligible to return against the New York Rangers on March 20.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong / RMNB