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Capitals’ Tom Wilson suspended two preseason games for interference

Capitals right wing Tom Wilson fights St. Louis Blues right wing Dmitrij Jaskin during Friday’s preseason game. The Blues won, 4-0. (Nick Wass/Associated Press)

Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson has been suspended two preseason games for interference on St. Louis’s Robert Thomas in Friday night’s preseason game, the NHL’s department of player safety announced Saturday. Wilson had a hearing Saturday morning, and the suspension is the first of his career.

While the suspension itself isn’t too damaging because it will only apply to exhibition games, Wilson could face harsher discipline if he gets flagged for an illegal hit in the future because he would be considered a repeat offender. Because he will only be suspended for preseason games, Wilson does not forfeit any salary.

In a video explanation, the department of player safety noted Wilson’s hit came more than a full second after Thomas lost control of the puck and was eligible to be checked. “The predatory nature and force of the hit” elevated it to being deemed worthy of a suspension. The full video explanation is below:

Wilson was scheduled to play in the Capitals’ preseason game Saturday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, but when the team learned Wilson’s hit had caught the league’s attention, Brett Connolly drew into the lineup instead. Coach Barry Trotz said he was “a little bit” surprised Wilson got summoned for a hearing.  The hit wasn’t penalized, but Blues forward Dmitrij Jaskin fought Wilson in response to it. Thomas wasn’t injured on the hit and scored two goals in St. Louis’s 4-0 win.

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While Wilson has never been suspended by the NHL’s department of player safety, he was fined during the 2016 postseason for kneeing Pittsburgh’s Conor Sheary. Wilson has led the team in penalty minutes for the past four seasons, and his bruising, physical style of play has been on officials’ radar for some time.

“I didn’t go through it; I saw it real briefly just on the monitor,” Trotz said of the hit. “I didn’t think anything of it, but obviously they did. And they watch that a lot closer than we do. I was a little surprised. But whatever decision that they have, we’ll handle it.”

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