Friday: The NHLPA has officially filed an appeal on Wilson’s behalf which will be heard by Gary Bettman on an as yet undetermined date.
Thursday: As many expected as soon as the hefty 20-game suspension was handed out, Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson will appeal the decision. Head coach Todd Reirden confirmed as much to reporters today including Chris Kuc of The Athletic, after Wilson took part in the team’s Stanley Cup celebration before their season opener last night.
The Department of Player Safety gave Wilson such a long suspension because of his recent history, noting that no one had ever received supplementary discipline at such a high frequency. This is his fourth suspension in his last 105 games including both preseason and postseason, and the league clearly wanted to send a message to him that he needs to stop being involved in dangerous plays or risk his NHL career. Wilson has always played right on the edge, and though some may argue that this specific incident didn’t warrant such a long suspension he too often is involved in borderline plays.
For the Capitals, they would certainly like to see Wilson back on the ice sooner rather than later—despite their easy 7-0 win over the Boston Bruins last night. While huge offensive totals still may be out of his reach, the power forward is an integral part of their attack and balances out their lineup. Brett Connolly took his place next to Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin last night, but would lengthen out the forward group if he could move further down.
It’s hard to imagine the league will actually reduce the decision, especially because Wilson has already had an in-person hearing to argue his case. If he doesn’t get it reduced, he’ll be forfeiting more than $1.26MM this season, meaning his entire base salary will be given to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.