Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson has been suspended seven games for boarding Boston Bruins defenceman Brandon Carlo.
The incident took place during the first period of Friday’s game between the Bruins and Capitals, which Washington lost by a final score of 5-1. Wilson didn’t receive a penalty on the play.
The 26-year-old was scheduled to have a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety Saturday. It was reportedly held over Zoom and Wilson has the right to appeal.
Carlo left the game after the hit and was taken to hospital. He was released Saturday.
“So he’s back home,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Hasn’t been at the rink, obviously. That’s all I got from the trainers this morning.”
The Bruins responded Friday with two fights against Wilson, one courtesy Trent Frederic and one courtesy Jared Tinordi. The biggest message sent was the win, bolstered by a three-goal second period in response to the hit.
There’s no question the hit falls under the definition of boarding, which states that a “boarding penalty shall be imposed on any player who checks or pushes a defenceless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously.”
On the play in question, Carlo had no idea Wilson was coming because he was engaged in a puck battle with Jakub Vrana.
The Department of Player Safety notes that Wilson could have delivered a legal check to Carlo, adding that there are ways to engage a player who does not anticipate contact. But in this particular case, Wilson’s conduct is evaluated on the whole.
In other words, the difference between Wilson’s contact with Carlo and legal contact with a player in similar circumstances is the “direct and significant contact” with the player’s face and head.
As noted by the Department of Player Safety, Wilson is a player with a “substantial disciplinary record.” That has been considered in dishing out his fifth NHL suspension.
Pic: Michael Dwyer/AP