Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson formally appealed his 20-game suspension, the NHL Players’ Association said Friday.
The appeal was expected and took place within the accepted 48-hour window after the suspension was announced Wednesday.
The appeal was sent to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and was filed by the NHLPA on Wilson’s behalf. There is no date set for the hearing.
It will be up to Bettman to rule on the appeal, but things can head to a neutral arbitrator if the result is unsatisfactory to Wilson.
Wilson was suspended for his hit on St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist. The incident took place during the final Capitals preseason game Sunday and Wilson has thus far missed two games of the regular season. If the suspension is upheld, he’s due back in the NHL on November 21.
Wilson has been suspended four times in his past 105 games, a detail that surely factored into this suspension.
Given that, it’s hard to imagine Bettman going against the Department of Player Safety. Getting the behaviour exhibited by Wilson out of the game is one of the tasks awaiting the NHL this season in particular and that will likely find the commissioner sticking to his guns.
This is all about messaging for the league.
Wilson hammered Sundqvist in a pointless preseason contest and hasn’t learned his lesson from past events. He drew a 10-minute penalty and contact was entirely avoidable. He targeted the head and it was a blindside hit.
The league has to set the terms with this appeal.
Wilson has made milquetoast promises to change, but this, like the Department of Player Safety pointed out, is “unprecedented.” No other current player has seen so many suspensions in such a short period of time.
This is, after all, the player who laughed as he injured Zach Auston-Reese in the playoffs.
It’s up to Bettman to ensure that the message is sent, even if the message won’t be received by the player and his obsolete supporters.