The NHL has suspended Tom Wilson for 20 games for an illegal check to the head on St. Louis Blues’ forward Oskar Sunqvist. This is Wilson’s fourth suspension in his last 105 preseason, regular season and postseason games. Wilson is in the first year of a six-year, $31 million contract.
Washington’s Tom Wilson suspended twenty games for an Illegal Check to the Head on St. Louis’ Oskar Sundqvist. https://t.co/ojQ4yN6oFN
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) October 3, 2018
Below is the video that the NHL released detailing the incident and announcing the suspension. Below the video is a full transcript of the video for those who don’t have the ability to watch the video for themselves.
Full Transcript of the Player Safety Video
Sunday afternoon in Washington, Capitals’ forward Tom Wilson was assessed a match penalty for an illegal check to the head of Blues’ forward Oskar Sundqvist.
As the video shows, Sundqvist takes a pass from a teammate and breaks into the Capitals’ zone on the rush as Wilson backchecks through center. Sundqvist begins to move to the center of the ice. Wilson sees this and gains speed with a quick crossover. Sunqvist continues on his path and releases a shot on goal. As he does so, Wilson delivers a high, forceful hit which makes Sunqvsist’s head the main point of contact, on a hit where such head contact was avoidable and causes an injury. This is an illegal check to the head.
It is important to note that Sunqivst is eligible to be checked on this play. Players cutting to the center of the ice understand and accept that they may be the recipient of a hard, full-body hit from an opponent. However, rather than hitting through Sunqivst’s core and delivering a legal, full-body check, Wilson takes a poor angle of approach that picks Sundqvist’s head and makes it the main point of contact.
It is also important to note that the head contact on this play is avoidable. Sundqvist does not materially change the position of his head or body just prior to or simultaneous with contact in a way that significantly contributes to the head being the main point of contact.
While Sundqvist does adjust his arms in the course of taking a shot, his head and core continue on a consistent path from the moment Wilson commits to this hit. This hit is entirely in Wilson’s control and with time to take a better angle of approach that hits through Sunqvists’ core, Wilson instead delivers a hit that picks Sunqivst’s head and causes an injury.
In determining the length of suspensions, the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association states:
“Players who repeatedly violate league playing rules will be more severely punishes for each new violation.”
Wilson was suspended on three occasions during the 2017-18 NHL season. On Sept. 22nd, 2017, he was suspended for a late, high hit on Robert Thomas. Just two preseason games later, Wilson was again suspended This time for boarding Samuel Blais. Seven months later, Wilson was suspended for an illegal check to the head of Zach Aston-Reese.
This hit on Sundqvist occurred in only his 16th game since his last suspension, which was also for an illegal check to the head. In short, including preseason and postseason 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.
To summarize, this is an illegal check to the head. Sunqvist suffered an injury on the play. Wilson is a repeat offender under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.
The Department of Player Safety has suspended Tom Wilson for 20 games.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.