NHL upholds Capitals winger Tom Wilson’s 20-game suspension

Watch as Tom Wilson gets a game misconduct after taking out Oskar Sundqvist with an open-ice hit to the head in pre-season action.

One week after his appeal hearing, Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson‘s 20-game suspension has been upheld by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

Wilson was issued the hefty suspension by the NHL’s department of player safety on Oct. 3, three days after he was ejected from a pre-season contest for an illegal check to the head against St. Louis Blues centre Oskar Sundqvist.

Upon announcement of the suspension, the league also released a video explaining that Wilson delivered “a high, forceful hit, which makes Sundqvist’s head the main point of contact on a hit where such head contact was avoidable and causes an injury.”

The NHLPA appealed the ruling on Wilson’s behalf within 48 hours, per league rules, and he had a hearing with Bettman on Oct. 18. Wilson can now appeal to a neutral arbitrator, if he so chooses.

Wilson has so far missed eight contests and is eligible to make his season debut Nov. 21 against the Chicago Blackhawks. He was granted “non-roster player” status by the NHL, which allowed the Capitals to make roster moves without worrying about Wilson using up one of 23 roster spots during his suspension. In July, the 24-year-old inked a six-year, $31-million deal to stay in Washington, which means he forfeits approximately $1.26 million in salary for his infraction — money that will go towards the players’ emergency fund.

Sundqvist has yet to suit up this season after being placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury, but is set to skate in Thursday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

This isn’t the forward’s first time landing himself in hot water with the league, and in fact he’s been a frequent contact for the player safety department with three previous infractions occurring in the past 13 months — something the league called “an unprecedented frequency of suspensions in the history of the department of player safety.”

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