Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson went more than two years without a suspension as he revised the way he checks.
But Friday night, he sent a player to the hospital with a heavy yet unpenalized hit, and the NHL came down hard Saturday with a seven-game suspension for boarding.
It's his fifth suspension and second-longest of his career. He'll forfeit $311,781.61 in pay.
Wilson checked Brandon Carlo hard into the boards in the first period of Boston’s 5-1 victory Friday night as the defenseman tried to locate a loose puck in his skates. Carlo immediately grabbed his head and appeared dazed as he needed help leaving the ice surface. He was released from the hospital Saturday morning.
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The league agreed with the Capitals that Carlo and other unsuspecting players are eligible to be checked, but it issued the suspension because of the "totality of the circumstances" surrounding the hit.
"What separates this hit from others is the direct and significant contact to a defenseless player’s face and head, causing a violent impact with the glass," the NHL said in its suspension video. "This is a player with a substantial disciplinary record taking advantage of a player who is in a defenseless position and doing so with significant force."
Wilson's history of suspensions includes one for 20 games for an illegal hit to the head of Oskar Sundqvist during the 2018-19 preseason. That was his fourth suspension in 105 games. The suspension was reduced to 14 games by an independent arbitrator.
His other suspensions were two games for a late hit, four games for boarding and three playoff games for an illegal check to the head that broke the jaw of the Pittsburgh Penguins' Zach Aston-Reese.
The Bruins came after Wilson on Friday night as the game progressed, with Boston's Jarred Tinordi fighting him in the second period and Trent Frederic taking him on in the third period.
Wilson will be eligible to return on March 20 against the New York Rangers.
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