Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson has become well-acquainted with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety this season, so after he was boarded by Tampa Bay’s Anton Stralman in the first period Tuesday night in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, he certainly had an opinion of the hit and whether it was deserving of additional discipline.
“Well, it’s their job to take a look at it, for sure,” Wilson said. “They’re probably reviewing it. I don’t know how much goes into it. I can tell you that if it’s maybe the other way around, you better believe they’re looking at it, and you better believe there might be a little bit more attention on it.”
But Stralman won’t be suspended for the play, a person with knowledge of the situation said Wednesday. Typically, on plays when a player sees the hitter approaching and turns his back, and the hitting player then attempts to minimize the force — Stralman was considered to have changed his angle to hit the back shoulder — there isn’t supplementary discipline.
Stralman was assessed a minor penalty for boarding 8:58 into the game, and after Wilson was down on the ice for several seconds with his hand clutching his head, he briefly went to the locker room to be examined.
Wilson was suspended three games in the Capitals’ second-round series for an illegal check to the head of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese, a ruling with which he emphatically disagreed. Wilson has been more diligent about balancing his physical style of play with the explosive collisions that could garner attention from the Department of Player Safety, especially because he’s considered a repeat offender. He was suspended twice in the preseason to earn that label.
“I don’t really know anymore,” Wilson said. “I don’t know. But if anyone wants to feel the goose egg on the side of my head. He leaves his feet, I’m in a pretty vulnerable spot, and he drives my head through the glass. I’m not one to lay on the ice, but it took me a little bit to collect myself. I got back out there, but everything I’ve heard all year, he sees numbers for a good amount of time and he elevates through the back of my shoulder and head. …
“It’s a vulnerable position, and no doubt there’s contact with my head. If I’m wearing a helmet from five years ago, I think I’m probably unconscious. So we’ll see what they say. We’re going to keep driving forward here. We can’t let that be an excuse. I’m not here to complain about anything. I’m just talking about it for the better of the game and for the better of player safety.”
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