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Tom Wilson NHL discipline history: Fines, suspensions, other hits

After generating plenty of debate around the hockey world, Tom Wilson received a $5K fine -- not a suspension -- following a controversial incident involving Rangers forwards Artemi Panarin and Pavel Buchnevich.

Judging by the thousands of quote tweets from the Department of Player Safety’s decision, the Tom Wilson debates aren’t going to slow down anytime soon on Tuesday.

For some, it’s a delightful opportunity to argue with people online. Others might have grown tired of such bickering -- whether you tend to defend the hard-hitting winger, or whether you think he should be banned from the NHL.

Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that he’s just 27 years old. As you can see from this history of Tom Wilson suspensions, fines, and hits that avoided discipline, he’s already shown a knack for stirring up debates. Being that his Capitals and Rangers meet again on Wednesday, we’ll have to see if there are even more entries within this week.

But it already feels like the sort of voluminous epic that could be chronicled in many leather-bound books.

(Rangers - Capitals airs on NBCSN on Wednesday, with pre-game coverage starting at 6:30 p.m. ET. Click here for the livestream link.)

Tom Wilson suspension history

To review, Tom Wilson has been suspended five times by the NHL. Let’s run down those suspensions in chronological order -- with a sidebar for his busy run around the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

  • Sept. 22. 2017: Two preseason games for a hit on Blues forward Robert Thomas. Up until this point, Wilson avoided discipline, such as a hit on Brayden Schenn in 2013.
  • Oct. 1, 2017: The NHL suspended Tom Wilson for four games for boarding Sammy Blais, also of the Blues.

An especially controversial stretch during (and after) the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs

If you’re charting Tom Wilson controversies, things were picking up in 2017, but reached a new level once that 2017-18 season shifted to the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

During the Capitals’ first-round series vs. the Blue Jackets, Wilson received a charging penalty for hit on Alexander Wennberg. Wennberg wouldn’t return to the game, and Wilson might have avoided supplemental discipline because of ... a lack of camera angles?

Even so, Wilson believed that resulting penalty cost the Capitals the game, “I’ve got to be better and maybe pass up on that hit.”

[MORE: Rangers statement criticizes Wilson fine, Parros as player safety head]

Later in the Capitals’ eventual 2018 Stanley Cup run, Wilson avoided a suspension for a hit on Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin. The league reportedly found that “contact with the head was unavoidable on that play.”

Eventually, Wilson did receive a suspension during that postseason.

  • May 1, 2018: Three playoff games for an illegal check to the head of Zach Aston-Reese (Penguins).

That said, it wasn’t the last of debatable hits. During Game 1 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, Wilson avoided a suspension for what some believed was a late hit on Jonathan Marchessault. In December of the 2018-19 season, Ryan Reaves delivered a check that left Wilson with a concussion.

(Reaves avoided supplemental discipline.)

Closing off that stretch between 2017-18 and the start of 2018-19, Wilson received his largest suspension for this preseason hit on Oskar Sundqvist.

[More on Tom Wilson avoiding suspensions from back in 2018]

Wilson suspended, fined in 2020-21

  • March 6, 2021: Earlier this season, the NHL suspended Wilson seven games for a hit on Brandon Carlo of the Bruins. In that case, Wilson decided not to appeal the suspension.
  • May 4, 2021: On Tuesday, the NHL fined Tom Wilson $5K as a result of that latest controversial incident.

Again, it’s noteworthy that the Department of Player Safety mentioned Pavel Buchnevich, but not other Rangers such as Ryan Strome, and especially Artemi Panarin.

(You can watch footage of that incident in the video above this post’s headline.

Two other fines for Wilson, plus some other times he avoided discipline

In addition to those five suspensions, the NHL also fined Tom Wilson three times. The most recent, of course, was this incident involving Panarin and Buchnevich.

Along with that, Tom Wilson received a fine for kneeing (now-current teammate) Conor Sheary back in 2016. Back in March 2015, the NHL fined Wilson for embellishment/diving.

Beyond fines and suspensions, Tom Wilson delivered hits that many believed should have also resulted in supplemental discipline. When it comes to hits that didn’t result in supplemental discipline, you wade even deeper into debates.

Either way, these are some hard hits. Take this brutal check on Lubomir Visnovsky from April 2015, for example:

Wilson received a charging penalty, while Visnovsky didn’t return to that series. (He’d end up playing nine games in the KHL in 2015-16, and that was it.)

He’s also benefited from match penalties being rescinded. That happened twice in December 2015, as Wilson avoided discipline for hits on Curtis Lazar and Brian Campbell.

If you’re in the mood to argue, you can comb through nine-minute-long videos compiling the hits where Tom Wilson may or may not have “crossed the line.” Many would at least agree that Wilson is one of those players who can blur the line, thus opening up room for such debates.

All things considered, it doesn’t seem like he’s going to change the way he plays. So, for better or worse, it seems like hockey fans will continue to debate Tom Wilson hits for some time.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.