Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Wilson Will Sit

The image to the left could be the lasting image of Tom Wilson's legacy. There has always been some concern with how Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson plays the game when it comes to his physical edge, but the hit that he threw on Pittsburgh's Zach Aston-Reese yesterday will see him sit due to a suspension for the first time in the playoffs in his career. The results of the check that Wilson threw on Aston-Reece are scary, and there was hope that the Department of Player Safety would do the right thing and keep Wilson off the ice for a considerable amount of time. Today, we got our answer.

Look, I get that these two teams don't like one another with all the history between them. I understand that Washington will look for an edge against the Penguins, and Tom Wilson's game includes a significant physical edge that he uses gratuitously. He's a solid power forward who can score and play physically, and that's why he's in the lineup for Barry Trotz and the Washington Capitals.

However, it was announced this evening that Tom Wilson will be suspended for the next three games for his hit that left Zach Aston-Reese with a broken jaw that requires surgery and a concussion. The Department of Player Safety stated that Aston-Reese's head was the initial point of contact during the check, and they emphasized that Wilson did not have to turn to his left and lead with his shoulder to check Aston-Reese.

"He extends up and into the hit unnecessarily," the Department of Player Safety stated in its video explanation of the ruling. They made it clear that "Aston-Reese made no sudden movement at the last second that made contact unavoidable" during the play, so the call to suspend Wilson was a fairly easy one to make.

Adding into Wilson's suspension was the fact that he was suspended for two preseason games for a late hit on St. Louis Blues rookie Robert Thomas and sat for the first four games of the regular season after boarding Blues forward Sammy Blais. His repeat-offender status was a factor, and this new offence won't help him going forward if he doesn't change his ways.

The series resumes in Pittsburgh tomorrow with the Capitals ahead 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. There's hope that there will be no further questionable actions stemming from this or any other incident, and I'm guessing Pittsburgh is focusing on earning a win to send this series back to Washington tied 2-2.

Personally, I think the suspension could have been longer, but three games was more than I was expecting. Washington will lose a major physical presence in their lineup, and they'll have to adjust accordingly. Whether or not Pittsburgh can capitalize on this three-game break from Wilson will be seen tomorrow night and as the series progresses.

Here's hoping that Zach Aston-Reese recovers from his concussion and broken jaw quickly and he can get back to 100%. No one deserves that kind of injury when playing for the sport's biggest prize.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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