NHL Makes Right Call on Tom Wilson

Posted December 19, 2013

Tom Wilson (Caps Outsider)

On Thursday morning, Capitals rookie forward Tom Wilson had a phone hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety with regards to a hit he laid on Flyers center Brayden Schenn during Tuesday night’s game. In a surprise move, the league has decided not to levy any supplemental discipline on Wilson for his actions.

In the video, Vice President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan gives two reasons for not suspending Wilson. He first says that prior to the hit Schenn turns his back to Wilson which contributes to the outcome of the collision. This is probably what saved Wilson from actually being suspended. Due to the fact that Schenn turns prior to the collision it negates whatever boarding suspension Wilson would’ve received.

Shanahan is completely right on this count. Every suspension video the NHL produces talks about how a player doesn’t turn his body or change positions prior to the hit. In this instance, Schenn did. The fact that Schenn turns beforehand changes the impact he received from the boards, whether it was better or worse.

The other reason was that when Wilson came off of the boards, he was skating full speed on the forecheck. For a brief second, Wilson stops to wait to see where the puck goes. The puck then went to Schenn and that’s when Wilson takes off after him. Because he didn’t skate full speed towards charge, it negates a suspension for charging.

This is the part I’ve had difficulty agreeing with. When the video was first published I still thought that Wilson charged at Schenn. After watching it ten times, I have to agree with Shanahan as well. Wilson does skate full speed to get on the forecheck and does stop at the top of the circle. As much as I first thought that Wilson should have received a two game suspension, the NHL actually got this one right.

Just because Wilson wasn’t suspended doesn’t mean that it was a legal check. It was illegal but the league felt that it either a) it wasn’t suspendible hit, or b) that the 5 minute major and game misconduct sufficed. Either way, he will not be missing any games and should be in the lineup Friday night against the Hurricanes. I was so happy about this decision that I stuffed my fat face with a piece of chocolate pudding pie and a cup of coffee. You should celebrate too!

Also, if you haven’t seen the video explanation of the non-suspension, you should. It is the best explanation Shanahan has ever given: