Capitals forward Tom Wilson has been suspended 20 games by the NHL for an illegal hit to the head of Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist, the Department of Player Safety announced Wednesday. The league is finally throwing the book at the bruising forward after repeated penalties didn’t prevent him from going at Sundqvist’s head in the second period of a meaningless preseason game.
The suspension starts with the Capitals’ regular season opener against the Bruins on Wednesday night. Wilson will be eligible to return Nov. 21 when the Capitals host the Blackhawks.
The Department of Player Safety specified three pieces of criteria for the lengthy suspension in a video posted online:
- Wilson’s hit was an illegal check to the head
- Sundqvist was injured on the play
- Wilson is a repeat offender
This is Wilson’s fourth suspension in his last 105 NHL games, including one back in May, which the video calls an “unprecedented frequency of suspensions in the history of the Department of Player Safety.” The forward, who signed a six-year, $31 million extension with the Capitals in the offseason, has developed a reputation for taking head shots despite the league’s ongoing effort to minimize them in the game.
Wilson set career-highs last season with 14 goals and 35 points in 78 regular season games, then recorded 15 points in 21 playoff games to help the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup. He’ll have a hard time matching those scoring numbers now that he’s out for the first quarter of the season.