Tag Archives: Tom Wilson

Washington Re-Capitals: Week Nineteen

It’s Nicklas Backstrom’s Number Week, and the Washington Capitals celebrated their favorite soothsaying garden gnome by winning two of their three games. They did not celebrate Andre Burakovsky’s birthday, on which they lost by one goal in overtime to the sixth in the Atlantic Division Florida Panthers. When will this team learn what middle ground means?

In games three, four, and five of the season-record six game homestand, the Capitals faced Vancouver, Colorado, and Florida, and won somewhat predictably and lost as they usually do – after coming back two to three times in unpredictable and unexplainable ways and then falling flat on their faces at the last possible moments. While the Capitals in February are a lot easier to stomach than they were in early November, the last time they were five games into a homestand, there’s always room for improvement.

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Washington Re-Capitals: Week Eighteen

Going into the All Star Break, the Capitals were losing, and losing badly. In the two games they’ve played since coming out of the All Star Break, the Capitals are 1-1 as they begin their longest homestand of the year. Better late than never?

We left our chaotically terrible boys in the midst of a seven game free fall that many worried that a week off could not shake. But after eight days off, the Washington Capitals returned rested and ready to shake off their past troubles, beating the Pacific Division leading Calgary Flames by one goal. Despite falling to the Boston Bruins in their second and final game of the week, the Caps are looking better than they did before the break.

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Washington Re-Capitals: Week Twelve

To all those celebrating Christmas, Happy and/or Merry Christmas. To the rest of us, happy Cookie Season. Everything’s going to be on sale on December 26th and you know what? We’re going to be ready. The Capitals did admirably this week, even with the prospect of a few days off as a light at the end of the tunnel, coming out of a three game stretch with two wins, leaving them with nearly identical home and away records. The depth stole the show, with goals by Eller, Connolly, and Stephenson, and the shutout win against Ottawa was the perfect present to all Capitals fans.

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Boys Will Be Criminal Offenders: The Role Of The Neutral Arbitrator in the NHL

[Warning: This article includes discussion of Austin Watson, who recently and publicly physically assaulted his girlfriend, and refers to that particular act of domestic violence and the culture of victim blaming. If this is not material you are ready to handle or can easily handle, please put your safety first. If you or someone you know needs help and resources for getting out of an abusive situation, please call emergency services or one of the many domestic violence help lines. You deserve better than what you were given.]

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What To Expect Once You’ve Wilson-ed

The NHL Department of Player Safety, for the first time in a while, did something unexpected — it lived up to its name. When the Washington Capitals raise their Stanley Cup Champions banner tonight, the first time that Capital One Arena has seen such an event, Tom Wilson will not be on the ice.

He will not be on the ice, in fact, for any of the first twenty games of the season.

The three minute, fifteen second explanation of the suspension issued by the Department of Player Safety covers their reasoning in detail, but it boils down to this — Wilson, a repeat offender per the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, delivered a high, forceful, and unnecessary hit, the main point of contact of which was Sundqvist’s head. Wilson could have finished the check without contact to Sundqvist’s head, and as a repeat offender whose last suspension (just sixteen games ago) was also for an illegal check to the head, Wilson’s punishment had to be more severe.

“On September 22nd, 2017, [Wilson] was suspended for a late, high hit on Robert Thomas. Just two preseason games later, Wilson was again suspended, this time for boarding Samuel Blais. Seven months later, Wilson was suspended for an illegal check to the head of Zach Aston-Reese. This hit on Sundqvist occured in only his sixteenth game since his last suspension, which was also for an illegal check to the head. In short, including preseason and postseason games played, this is Wilson’s fourth suspension in his last one hundred and five games, an unprecedented frequency of suspensions in the history of the Department of Player Safety.” — NHL Department of Player Safety

In addition to sitting out the first twenty games of the regular season, he will also forfeit around $1.26 million in salary, which will go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund. That means that Wilson, whose base salary this year is only around $1.1 million, has essentially lost a year’s money off the monster contract he signed this summer.

Wilson is not only a repeat offender, but a recent repeat offender, and the Department of Player Safety sent a strong message to Wilson and players of his ilk that avoidable contact to the head on plays will no longer be tolerated, especially by repeat offenders, with this suspension. What remains to be seen, however, is whether twenty games is enough time for Wilson to learn his lesson.

What To Expect When You’re Wilson-ing

Let’s say you have a friend, who, for lack of any other name in the known universe, we will call Tom. Tom is a good guy. Tom helped build a playground once. Tom likes getting kids moving and teaching them the importance of exercise. Your buddy Tom, unfortunately, also has a propensity to get in fights. And when Tom gets in fights… Tom commits.

Every few months, Tom tells you and all his other friends that he’s going to change. That he wants to do the right thing and understands how rewarding it can be to stick to the straight and narrow. He wants to follow through. He wants to stop disappointing the people around him. And you hold your breath, because some small part of you believes he will follow through this time. But when it comes down to the wire, just like he’s done every other time, Tom picks the easy way out, leaving you looking like a douchebag and a half.

You feel miserable and, once again, he insists to you that he didn’t mean it. He didn’t intend to throw that punch that way (which, after multiple iterations of this hell simulation, you recognize as very different from “I didn’t intend to get in this fight”). He understands that he did you wrong and wants to fix it. And you say “okay, Tom, we know you’re better than this, just take the suspension they give you and take the time to really understand why you can’t do this again”.

But he doesn’t, as per usual, and you’re stuck with a metaphorical clown hat on because no one quite understands what his deal is and, by extension, yours.

I am here to tell you that this is not going to change. That clown hat is superglued to your head. This is his fourth hearing with the Department of Player Safety in one year. One year, folks. And he incurred this hearing because, you guessed it, outright violence is absolutely necessary in the second period of a preseason game — the last preseason game, in fact.

All the facts are on the table — this hit, even if you’re one of the surprisingly many people insisting it was shoulder to shoulder contact, did not need to happen. Tom Wilson, as much as he is given time and incentive and linemates that can redirect his physicality into occasional skill plays, is going to be back to normal operating procedure the first opportunity he has. Nowhere is this more obvious than his record of preseason hits — last preseason, he was suspended twice for hits against the Blues and missed the first four games of the regular season. As the Department of Player Safety is offering an in person hearing, which allows them to suspend him for more than five games, we can only assume he’ll miss more than that this season.

Let’s not miss the obvious truth in this: He’s a repeat offender and he’s escalating because the consequences he faces are essentially meaningless to him. He obviously learned nothing from the three game suspension he incurred this May for breaking Zach Aston-Reese’s jaw because here he is again, in DoPS’ headlights for another illegal check to the head.

The preseason doesn’t count so that that coaches can use it to organize their final lineup, test out rookies in an NHL setting (though not against full NHL lineups, in most cases), and see if their veterans are back up to snuff after a summer of hijinks. It cannot be used for that purpose if players are severely injuring each other, whether accidentally or on purpose. The preseason is for coaches as much as it’s for players and that makes Mike Yeo’s remarks on the Wilson hit (per Samantha J. Pell of the Washington Post) entirely merited — “It was predatory and that is what he’s done and he’s done that against us so that’s the way he plays the game and obviously again, like I said, we’ll see what the league does”. Yeo has lost a young player to what could be a significant injury (or injuries) over an unnecessary episode of Headhunters Not Anonymous, and while the Blues thankfully don’t have to worry about forward depth, thanks to the offseason additions of O’Reilly and Bozak, the Capitals are deservedly going to be starting the season one man down.

Tom Wilson is losing more than some people make in a year every game he’s suspended, but it’s pocket change to him. A five game suspension feels more like an undeserved, unearned week off to prepare for the season. He has not learned from his mistakes and shows no desire to do so. As fans, we want him to be a better person than he is, so we try to rationalize his actions in whatever way suits us, but what lies at the core of this is a fundamental truth of our society — consequences don’t exist for rich white men. And when the Department of Player Safety convenes on Wednesday morning to discuss whether the head contact was incidental or intentional, we all owe ourselves a long, hard think about how far we’re willing to go to defend someone who’s given his fans nothing but empty words.

Tom Wilson will not receive further discipline from NHL DOPS

It’s the Stanley Cup final. Something that had been alien to the Washington Capitals for 20 years and top liner Tom Wilson lays a shoulder to shoulder check on an unaware Jonathan Marchessault.

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