Tom Wilson will have a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Tuesday for boarding the Blues’ Sammy Blais.
It’ll be the second time in less than two weeks that player safety has called a hearing with the rugged Capitals winger.
In the second period of Sunday’s preseason finale—a 4-3 Washington victory at Scottrade Center in St. Louis—Wilson was given a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct for hitting Blais from behind.
Although Blais was initially shaken by the hit, he returned to the game after clearing the league’s concussion protocol.
For a typical game on NBC Sports Washington, there at least five views for the department of player safety to review, and sometimes as many as 11. This game, however, wasn’t typical; it was not broadcast in Washington or St. Louis. There is, however, in-arena video of the play.
Although Wilson plays on the edge and has been in the league’s crosshairs for some time now, he’s avoided getting into serious trouble until recently.
On Sept. 23, the 23-year-old was suspended two exhibition games for a late hit on St. Louis’ Robert Thomas. It was the first suspension of Wilson’s career and, more important, it made him repeat offender in the eyes of the NHL. As such, it’s less likely he’ll receive any leniency for the hit on Blais.
After the game, Blues Coach Mike Yeo suggested that it’s perhaps time for the league to come down hard on Wilson.
“It’s a predatory hit with a guy that apparently didn’t learn his lesson from the first suspension,” Yeo told reporters in St. Louis. “So, maybe coming down a little bit harder on him will make him think a little bit more about it. It’s tough going against vulnerable people.”
Blais also thought the hit was dangerous, saying, “…it was not a good hit. I didn’t see him coming. If I saw him coming I would protect myself.”
After last week’s suspension, Wilson vowed not to change his hard-hitting style of play, adding, “Every time you make a body check, you’re making a split-second decision. I take pride in the physical nature of my game. I take pride in my body checks. This is my fifth season, and I’ve made a lot of body checks — very clean, hard hits. So I trust myself. Maybe it was a second late or whatever, but I’m going to learn from it and I’m going to continue to play my game, my hard-natured hockey.”
That suspension, though, amounted to a cheap lesson for Wilson. Preseason games, of course, do not count in the standings and he did not forfeit any salary since players are not paid until the regular season.
If he’s suspended on Tuesday, though, the consequences will be much more severe. In addition to his paycheck being docked, it’ll leave Washington with a hole to fill up front until he returns. Wilson is also on the team’s top penalty kill forward pair with Lars Eller.
The Caps are leaning toward keeping the maximum of 23 players on the opening night roster, which must be finalized by Tuesday at 5 p.m., so that they’ll have an extra forward in the event Wilson is banned.
The regular season begins Thursday in Ottawa.
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