Tom Wilson has already been suspended once this post-season for a nasty hit, and is at risk of missing further games after another borderline hit in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
On Monday night in Vegas, the Capitals forward cruised through center ice and demolished Jonathan Marchessault after he had passed the puck to a teammate. The game was tied 4-4 in the third period at that point, and Marchessault was visible shaken by the hit. He stayed down for almost 30 seconds and was very slow to get up. He went through the league’s concussion protocol and returned to play the end of the game.
Wilson received a two-minute minor penalty for interference on the play.
After the game, Wilson defended the hit:
“I haven’t obviously slowed it down and looked at it but I think he’d probably say he shouldn’t have admired his pass and I’m just finishing my check,” Wilson said, according to The Washington Post.
Wilson also claimed that Marchessault didn’t take any issue with the play:
“You always have your reputation,” he said via Greg Wyshynski of ESPN. “When you play my physical style, you’re going to have that reputation. I trust myself. I play the game hard. It’s my job to bring that energy, that physicality. Right after he (Marchessault) got up he said ‘good hit.'”
Washington coach Barry Trotz didn’t see very much wrong with the hit, and doesn’t expect the league to suspend Wilson:
Trotz on Tom Wilson: “I expect him to play in Game 2”
— Steve Carp (@stevecarprj) May 29, 2018
You will not be shocked to learn, though, that the Golden Knights camp see the incident slightly differently.
“I saw the hit. I remember everything,” said Marchessault, according to ESPN. “It was a late hit. I don’t really need to talk more about it. I think the league will take care of it. We know what type of player he is out there.”
Ryan Reaves added: “It was a late blindside hit like Wilson always does.”
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant also called it a “late hit.”
Game 2 of the series will be played Wednesday night in Las Vegas. The NHL’s Department of Player Safety reviews every hit, but there is no indication (yet) that they are planning additional punishment for Wilson.