By: Glenn Kaplan, Staff Writer
Photo Courtesy of CBS Pittsburgh
Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson was suspended 20 games by the NHL on Wednesday afternoon, just hours before they opened the season against the Boston Bruins. He is suspended for an illegal check to the head on St. Louis Blues centerman Oskar Sundqvist, during a preseason game on Sunday September 30.
Wilson has had a history of illegal hits towards other players. He was suspended three games during the Eastern Conference semifinals last season against the Pittsburgh Penguins because of an illegal hit to Zach Aston-Reese’s head and he suffered a broken jaw and a concussion.
This is the fourth suspension Wilson has been through dating back to last September. This suspension should be a wakeup call to him.
At just 24-years-old, he already has had a reputation of dirty hits to opposing players. Dirty hits have no place in the NHL anymore.
The NHL today is a game of speed and skill and not illegal hits. Wilson will have a lot to think about during his 20-game suspension. The first game he is eligible to return is on Wednesday, Nov. 21 at home against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Wilson’s game improved during the 2017-2018 season. In 78 games played, he scored 14 goals and recorded 21 assists. His plus/minus was 10.
Wilson did play on the first line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin during the Stanley Cup Championship run last season.
Brett Connolly took Wilson’s spot on the first line in the first game.
What happens if the Washington Capitals start the season 16-4? Will they even decide to put Wilson into the lineup?
He signed a six-year $31 million extension this past offseason. The NHL Players Association has filed an appeal on behalf of Wilson. He will remain suspended during the appeal process.
The NHL should not reduce his suspension by any means, although it was a pleasant surprise he was suspended for 20 games.
If Wilson does the same thing again the next time he plays in a game, it is quite possible the NHL could suspend him 25-40 games or maybe kick him out of the league. Wilson is putting a lot of money on the line when he is suspended. A lot of his teammates have his back.