While there are no “face-to-face” hearings due to COVID-19, Wilson was technically offered one on Saturday. While phone hearings usually indicate that the NHL is considering an interruption of five or fewer games, a “face-to-face” hearing means that an extension is being considered.
Wilson is the NHL’s Security Lightning Staff. From September 2017 to October 2018, he was banned four times for illegal hits in a period of 105 games, culminating in a 20-game ban for one hit against the St. Louis striker Oskar Sundqvist that was eventually reduced to 14 games by a referee.
After 90 seconds in the first half, Wilson scored a goal for Carlo in the corner behind the Boston net. Carlos’s head hit the glass and it fell on the ice and stayed there for a few minutes. The Bruins said he was rushed from the arena to a hospital in Boston in an ambulance.
“To me it looked like he got it right in his head. A defenseless player, a predatory hit from a player who’s done this before,” said Boston coach Bruce Cassidy of Wilson. “I don’t understand why no penalty was imposed on the ice. They huddled together, but I couldn’t get an explanation for it.”
The penalty will apparently come from the player safety department instead.
Her first test was whether the hit met the criteria for an illegal hit on the head. That wasn’t a solid case as Carlos head may not be the primary point of contact on the hit and Wilson apparently tried to put the game under full body control.
The next test was whether this was an illegal hit for boarding. The player safety department announced on Saturday that the hearing would be held for breaking rule 41 – boarding. According to the criteria for this rule, Wilson’s hit caused Carlo to “hit the boards hard” and Carlo to be “in a defenseless position,” which should result in Wilson minimizing contact.
If Wilson is suspended, the length of that ban will be hotly debated. Technically, Wilson is not a “repeat offender” under the department’s rules, having spent more than 18 months without an offense worthy of suspension. However, according to the NHL, this is only used to “determine the amount of forfeited salary during a suspension.” Wilson’s suspension history can be absolutely considered in determining the length of his next ban, as can the fact that his last suspension was in October 2018.
“I think Tom figured out how to play the game and stay off our radar. I hope it stays that way,” George Parros, the player safety director, told ESPN in March 2019. “We’ve seen clips of him delivering good, clean hits and hits that may have got him into trouble before.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.