The NHL has suspended Washington Capitals goon Tom Wilson 20 games for his hit to the head of Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist in a preseason game on Sunday. The suspension for the hit comes down just hours before the Capitals open up their season against the Bruins.
The hit on Sundqvist, which Blues head coach Mike Yeo called “predatory,” led to a game misconduct for Wilson, and some pretty rough facial injuries for Sundqvist. (He’ll be out “a while,” according to his coach.) In the accompanying video for the suspension released by the Department of Player Safety, the league notes that Wilson made a hit to the head on a play where that contact was avoidable, and should have gone lower on Sundqvist.
Wilson is also, as I’m sure you know, a repeat offender in the eyes of the NHL—he was suspended thrice last season, including three playoff games for giving Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese a concussion and a broken jaw. This game against the Blues was only his 16th since that last suspension, which was also for an illegal check to the head. Wilson’s 20 games is the longest NHL suspension for an on-ice play since Raffi Torres got 41 games in 2015 for his brutal hit on Jakob Silfverberg.
This is Wilson’s fourth suspension in his last 105 games, and DoPS’s video announcing the ban actually calls Wilson’s record “an unprecedented frequency of suspensions in the history of the league’s Department of Player Safety.” I honestly didn’t expect more than 5–10 games for Wilson, but this is an example of the NHL actually, finally, making a ruling that should serve as a real deterrent.