Tom Wilson has been suspended four games by the NHL for boarding St. Louis forward Sammy Blais, dealing the Caps a blow before the regular season even started.
It’s the second suspension for Wilson in a short amount of time—and that factored into the Department of Player Safety’s decision on Tuesday afternoon.
Wilson was banned two preseason games last month for a late hit on the Blues’ Robert Thomas.
Then, a little more than a week later, he was called before the league again, this time for the hit on Blais.
In Sunday’s preseason finale, Wilson crunched Blais into the boards from behind.
Wilson was assessed a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct.
Here’s the video explanation of DoPS's decision:
In a sign that the Caps expected Wilson to be suspended, the right wing was not assigned to a line in practice on Tuesday. Instead, Alex Chiasson was skating in Wilson's spot with center Lars Eller and left wing Brett Connolly.
Before the suspension was announced, Coach Barry Trotz made the case that the hit wasn’t as bad as it looked.
“I got a chance to look at the hit; I know there’s not a film on that,” Trotz said, referring to the fact that the game was not broadcast in Washington or St. Louis, meaning there were limited camera views of the hit. “Whatever the league decides, they’ll decide and we’ll react to it.”
Trotz added: “I looked at it in slow motion today and it doesn’t look near as bad as maybe I thought. The young player, to me, saw him coming and Tom actually just hits his arm and throws his arm into the glass. It looked a lot worse than if you could get good film on it.”
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Blais was checked for a concussion and returned to the game.
Wilson will miss Thursday’s opener in Ottawa, plus games against Montreal, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh. He's eligible to return to the lineup at New Jersey on Oct. 9.