The NHL suspended Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson 20 games on Wednesday for a check to the head of St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist in Sunday’s pre season game.
The league cited three factors in the length of the suspension, saying it was an illegal hit to the head, caused an injury and was delivered by a repeat offender.
“Including pre season and post season games played, this is Wilson’s fourth suspension in his last 105 games, an unprecedented frequency of suspensions in the history of the department of player safety,” the league said in its explanatory video.
Wilson was suspended twice last pre season and once in the post season. First, he was docked two games for a hit to the head on Sept. 22, 2017, then four games for boarding an opponent on Oct. 1. He then drew a three-game suspension during the second round of the playoffs for a hit to the head on May 1. Wilson also was scrutinized for a late hit in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Vegas Golden Knights, but avoided a suspension.
Wilson, who plays on the Capitals’ top line, was ejected from Sunday’s game against the Blues after putting his shoulder into Sundqvist’s head on an open-ice hit in the second period. Sundqvist suffered a concussion, facial damage and a shoulder injury and has been placed on injured reserve.
The league said in its video that Wilson -- who arrived from across the ice and out of Sundqvist’s vision as he took a shot -- specifically targeted the head with his check, despite such contact being avoidable.
Wilson had an in-person hearing with the league Wednesday, which is required for all suspensions of six or more games.
The Capitals open the defense of their Stanley Cup title at home against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.
Wilson will be eligible to return Nov. 21 against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Capitals will play the Blues twice in a 12-day span in early January.
--Field Level Media