Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson has been suspended the first four games of the regular season for boarding St. Louis Blues forward Sam Blais in Sunday’s preseason game, the NHL department of player safety announced Tuesday. This is Wilson’s second suspension in less than two weeks, something that likely lead to harsher discipline than there would’ve been otherwise.
Wilson was suspended two preseason games Sept. 23 for interference after his hit on Blues forward Robert Thomas was deemed late and excessively forceful. While he was fined by the department of player safety once for kneeing, he was never suspended in his first four seasons in the NHL. Wilson will be out until Oct. 13, missing games against the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins.
In the video explanation of the suspension, the department of player safety determined that, based on Wilson’s “angle of approach,” he was never in position to deliver a legal body check on Blais, who was defenseless along the boards. Wilson’s explanation was that he attempted to maneuver around Blais to deliver a shoulder-to-shoulder check, but the league determined that he failed in doing so.
“For me, I’ve always trusted the way that I played just because you trust the way that you finish checks,” Wilson said Tuesday afternoon. “You make a enough of them, you realize that all your instincts, you’re anticipating stuff for a reason out there and you make a good body check for a reason. A lot of the time when you slow it down, you can see, well, this is what I was thinking and maybe it went a little bit different because it’s such a fast game and there’s so many different factors. But a lot of the time when you slow it down you’re like, ‘Okay, that’s what I was thinking.’
“It’s tough. For four years, five years, you just go out there, you play your game. And then this thing happens in the preseason, an interference call, and now you’re playing with a bit of a record now and it’s maybe a little bit tougher, but that’s part of the sport. They’re trying to protect guys. They’re trying to make sure that everything’s played within the rules. People will have their opinions and I just got to trust my game. . . . You’ve got to play within the rules. You’ve got to play hard. But that physical element’s part of my game.”
Wilson is projected to play on Washington’s third line to start the season, and forward Alex Chiasson was skating in his place during Tuesday’s practice. Chiasson joined the team during training camp on a professional tryout, and while he is not yet under contract, the Capitals are currently “working through” one with him and his representation, General Manager Brian MacLellan said.
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