Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson has appealed the 20-game suspension he received Wednesday from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for a check to the head of St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist.
After Capitals coach Todd Reirden made that known Thursday, the NHL Players Association confirmed that they filed the appeal Friday on Wilson’s behalf.
Wilson had an in-person hearing with the league Wednesday and had 48 hours from the time of receiving the suspension to provide an appeal in writing to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who would be the first to review the case.
If the full suspension is upheld, Wilson would forfeit nearly $1.3 million in pay and be ineligible to play until Nov. 21, when the Capitals face the Chicago Blackhawks.
The illegal check occurred in the pre season finale on Sunday.
The league cited three factors in the length of the suspension, saying it was an illegal hit to the head, caused an injury and was delivered by a repeat offender.
“Including pre season and post season 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,” the league said in its explanatory video.
Wilson was suspended twice last pre season and once in the post season. First, he was docked two games for a hit to the head on Sept. 22, 2017, then four games for boarding an opponent on Oct. 1. He then drew a three-game suspension during the second round of the playoffs for a hit to the head on May 1. Wilson also was scrutinized for a late hit in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Vegas Golden Knights, but avoided a suspension.
Wilson, who plays on the Capitals’ top line, was ejected from Sunday’s game after putting his shoulder into Sundqvist’s head on an open-ice hit in the second period. Sundqvist suffered a concussion, facial damage and a shoulder injury and has been placed on injured reserve.
The league said in its video that Wilson — who arrived from across the ice and out of Sundqvist’s vision as he took a shot — specifically targeted the head with his check, despite such contact being avoidable.
The Capitals opened the defense of their Stanley Cup title at home Wednesday night by crushing the Boston Bruins 7-0.
—Field Level Media