To the surprise of no one, Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson is once again making headlines because of a controversial hit.
The Capitals’ hard-nosed winger has a reputation for “toeing the line,” and his blindside open ice hit on Vegas Golden Knights’ forward Jonathan Marchessault in the third period of Game 1 was, ummm, I guess, “toeing the line.”
Considering the refs were letting a lot of things go in Game 1, you had the feeling it was only a matter of time until someone dished out a questionable hit. Naturally, Wilson would be the guy to deliver such a hit.
Initially, Wilson did not receive a penalty on the play, but eventually he was given a two minute minor for interference while Marchessault was sent to the locker room for concussion protocol. David Perron also received a penalty on the play for leaving the bench and going after Alex Ovechkin.
For what it’s worth, former NHL referee Kerry Fraser felt like the hit deserved a five minute major and game misconduct, which, given the lateness of the hit and how far Wilson was coming from, seemed warranted.
The 5 + game misconduct for Interference was instituted for the very type of late blindside hit Tom Wilson just delivered.— Kerry Fraser (@kfraserthecall) May 29, 2018
Alright, I won’t dance around it here. With Game 1 in the books and fans still fuming about the hit, the question now is whether or not Wilson should be suspended.
Capitals head coach Barry Trotz said after the game he expects Wilson to play in Game 2, while Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant just said he felt the hit was late and deserving of a major.
The league will undoubtedly take a look at the hit, especially since Wilson is a repeat offender and has already been suspended once this postseason, but I doubt he will be suspended. If this were a regular season game, I think there’s no question a suspension would be handed out, but because this is the Stanley Cup Finals and the game was rather chippy on both sides, I think the league will let this one slide and keep a very, very keen eye on Wilson going forward.
I know, I can hear you now, “come on, Chris. The hit was extremely late and Wilson’s track record of controversial hits is why the league NEEDS to come down on him!” I agree with that thought process, too, and I can easily see why some fans feel a suspension is warranted here. However, I just don’t see the league dropping the hammer here. At most, I could see Wilson getting a game, but even that would surprise me.
The main reason I would be surprised at a suspension is because Wilson did not hit Marchessault in the head. I know that sounds ridiculous to say, but the NHL doesn’t exactly have a long history of handing out suspensions for non-head shot hits.
For frame of reference on Wilson...the NHL rarely suspends for a late hit when head is not primary point of contact. He is one example of where they did https://t.co/3o3qBqtZs3— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) May 29, 2018
I’ll be very curious to see what the NHL decides to do with this situation, especially since Perron leaving the bench to go after Ove should technically — by rule (refer to Rule 70.6) — be a suspension. But, again, given the circumstances of this being the Stanley Cup Finals and that the refs let just about everything go in Game 1, any sort of suspension to Perron or Wilson would surprise me.
What’s your opinion on the hit? Feel free to sound off about this controversial topic in the comments below.