Bruins

Caps coach Peter Laviolette doubles down on Tom Wilson hit with ridiculous take

Bruins

Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette unsurprisingly defended Tom Wilson after the veteran forward hit Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo up high along the boards in Friday night's game at TD Garden.

Wilson made contact with Carlo's head as part of a dangerous hit, which forced the 24-year-old defenseman to leave the game and be taken to a local hospital. Carlo since has been released from the hospital, but his status for Sunday's game and beyond is uncertain at this time.

B's coach Bruce Cassidy slams Tom Wilson over 'predatory' hit on Carlo

Laviolette, despite having almost a day to review the hit and perhaps form a different opinion than the one he gave after the game, decided to double down Saturday afternoon with a ridiculous take.

“I guess we’re still hopeful (Wilson will play Sunday),” Laviolette told reporters, as transcribed by Samantha Pell of The Washington Post. “I mean, to me, it was a hockey hit. If this is a suspendable play then all hitting really is going to probably have to be removed because he didn’t take any strides, he didn’t target the head, a player was up against the boards, he was upright and Tom hit him hard.

"I hope the player’s OK, but, for me, the call I think was correct on the ice last night. This hit happens so many times through the course of the game where somebody hits somebody against the boards and so I think we’re still hopeful that Tom will be available to us."

 

First of all, the suggestion that if this kind of play is suspendable then all hitting probably should be removed is insanity. What Wilson did is not a normal hockey hit. He took a run at a defenseless player and boarded him. There also was contact to the head. There's nothing "normal" about that play.

Second, the call on the ice was far from correct. The referees should have given Wilson a five-minute major penalty for boarding. At the absolute minimum, a two-minute minor penalty was warranted.

Instead, no penalty was given to Wilson, and that forced the Bruins to deal with it themselves. Bruins defenseman Jarred Tinordi and forward Trent Frederic both fought Wilson. The B's, to their credit, played with controlled emotion en route to a dominant 5-1 win.

It would be one thing if Wilson rarely dished out these kinds of dangerous hits. But he doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt based on his history. He was suspended four times in his first 105 career NHL games. His most recent suspension came in the 2018-19 preseason and got him banned for 20 (!) games. It was reduced to 14 after an appeal. Wilson also has delivered other questionable hits that didn't draw a suspension. 

The league's Department of Player Safety has a (virtual) in-person hearing with Wilson to discuss the hit on Carlo. The fact that it's an in-person hearing is notable because it allows the league to suspend him for more than five games. Wilson should definitely be suspended, but it's tough to predict what will happen given the league's inconsistency dealing with these hits.

Regardless of what the league decides, there's no question that Laviolette's take on this matter is embarrassing for both himself and the sport.