Caps F Wilson banned 6 games for high sticking

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Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson has been suspended six games by the NHL Department of Player Safety for a high stick to the head of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Noah Gregor on Wednesday night.

This is the sixth suspension of Wilson’s career and his first since 2021.

Gregor was skating into the Capitals zone when Wilson, who was backchecking, checked Gregor against the boards to force a turnover. After the hit, Gregor and Wilson were separating when Wilson’s stick struck Gregor in the face. Wilson immediately turned back to Gregor to check on him while appearing to show contrition for the incident before receiving a double minor at 12:15 of the third period.

“Wilson draws his stick back and then swings it forward in an extremely reckless fashion, making direct and forceful contact with Gregor’s face,” NHL Player Safety said in its ruling Friday.

NHL Player Safety also said in its ruling that Wilson was “solely in control of his actions” throughout the play. NHL Player Safety also acknowledged that while Wilson didn’t mean to strike Gregor in the face, Wilson’s stick was drawn behind him before it was “swung forcefully and recklessly into his opponent.”

“Wilson’s actions on this play are fully under his own control, irresponsible and not related to any sort of legitimate hockey action,” NHL Player Safety said in the ruling. “He is accountable for the dangerous result of the play which is a direct and forceful blow to an opponent’s head by a player with a substantial track record of supplemental discipline.”

His most recent suspension in 2021 was seven games for boarding Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo. It was the second-longest suspension of Wilson’s career, with the longest having come in the 2018-19 preseason when Wilson received 20 games for an illegal hit to the head of Oskar Sundqvist. At the time, it was Wilson’s fourth suspension in 105 games.

Wilson’s suspension means the Capitals will be without one of the most important players as they seek to remain in the Eastern Conference wild-card race. Wilson has scored 17 goals and 32 points in 66 games for the Capitals (33-26-9), who entered Friday just three points behind the Detroit Red Wings for the final wild-card spot in the East.

The Capitals, who will play the Red Wings on Tuesday, have played two fewer games than the Red Wings while also facing competition for the spot from the New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres. The game against the Red Wings will be the third game of Wilson’s suspension, which could see him return April 4 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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