Tom Wilson could find himself in trouble with the Department of Player Safety over a hit he delivered to St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist in Sunday’s preseasons finale. From his teammates, however, Wilson got nothing but support.
Wilson delivered a high hit to Sundqvist in the second period of the game that knocked Sundqvist down to the ice for several moments. Wilson was ejected from the game for the hit and Sundqvist had to be helped off the ice by teammates.
Following the game, the Caps expressed sympathy for Sundqvist for suffering an injury, but noted the onus was on him for cutting to the center with the puck on the attack.
“You never want to see a guy get hurt like that,” Brett Connolly said. “It's a big hit. He definitely didn't see him coming. That's one of those things when you're cutting through the middle.”
“It sucks the guy got hurt, at the same time, you can't be cutting across the middle,” Devante Smith-Pelly said. “I don't care if it's preseason or the middle of the season. That play's not exactly the safest.”
Sundqvist entered the offensive zone on the left with the puck, then cut to the center and fired a shot just before he was hit by Wilson who was coming in the opposite direction. Cutting across the middle offensively is a dangerous play for this very reason. An opposing forward is skating into traffic and, with the puck on his stick, he may not see a trailing player on his blindside.
“It was something where [Wilson’s] coming into defensive zone coverage and where he's supposed to be and that hit happens,” Todd Reirden said.
“It was definitely in the game more 10 years ago where guys were getting absolutely killed coming across the middle,” Nic Dowd said. “But that's part of Tom's game and that's how he's going to play.”
The hit will no doubt be reviewed by the Department of Player Safety to determine if any supplemental discipline is warranted. The call on the ice for which Wilson was ejected was an illegal hit to the head. That fact that Sundqvist had to be helped off and did not return to the game will likely hurt Wilson’s cause, as will the fact that he was suspended twice for hits in the preseason in 2017 and again for a hit in the 2018 playoffs.
But while that may lead some to label Wilson as “dirty” he certainly is not viewed that way in the locker room.
“Obviouisly live it looked painful, but that's how [Wilson] plays and guys have to know when he's out there,” Dowd said. “It's a personnel thing. I think Tom, he's a clean player. I don't think he's out there to hurt anybody.”
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