Capitals' Tom Wilson suspended 6 games for his stick to the face of Maple Leafs' Noah Gregor


WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson was suspended six games Friday for his stick to the face of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Noah Gregor.

The NHL’s department of player safety gave Wilson a suspension tied for the longest of any player this season after a disciplinary hearing with him on Zoom. The league offering that type of hearing instead of a phone call allowed senior vice president of player safety George Parros to hand down a suspension of six or more games.

Wilson can appeal, first to commissioner Gary Bettman and then, if he and the NHL Players’ Association choose, to a neutral arbitrator. He had a 20-game suspension for a blindside hit to to the head in 2018 reduced to 14 games by an arbitrator on appeal after he had already served 16.

In a video announcing the suspension, player safety said Wilson swung his stick in “extremely reckless fashion.”

“Wilson’s actions on this play are fully under his own control, irresponsible and not related to any sort of legitimate hockey action,” the league said. “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.”

It’s the sixth time Wilson has been suspended since 2017 and his first since being banned seven games for boarding Boston’s Brandon Carlo with head contact in 2021. He has also been fined three times: for roughing in 2021, kneeing in 2016 and embellishment in 2015.

Wilson will forfeit $161,458 in salary. Already out Friday night against Carolina, he’ll miss upcoming games against Winnipeg, Detroit, Toronto, Boston and Buffalo.

This ties the longest suspension this season, a six-game ban of Detroit’s David Perron for a cross-check to an unsuspecting opponent, which he was also ejected for. Wilson was given a double-minor penalty for high-sticking Gregor on Wednesday night late in Washington’s 7-3 loss to Toronto.

Missing Wilson for a huge chunk of games down the stretch is a significant blow to the Capitals as they try to make the playoffs after missing last year. Wilson was their All-Star representative and has 17 goals, third most among players remaining after sending Anthony Mantha to Vegas at the trade deadline.

“Huge absence in our lineup,” coach Spencer Carbery said after the team’s morning skate earlier Friday. “I don’t need to go into length about what he provides our team from a leadership standpoint, veteran presence standpoint, what he does on the ice.”

Wilson, whose new seven-year contract worth $45.5 million doesn’t even start until next season and who is widely considered Alex Ovechkin’s eventual successor as captain and face of the franchise, is not eligible to return until April.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl



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