Tom Wilson in hot water over Brian Dumoulin hit

April 30, 2018 GMT

Tom Wilson could be hearing from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety about a possible suspension over a hit in the second period of the Capitals’ 4-1 win Sunday over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

As he turned the corner, Wilson collided with Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin and Wilson’s shoulder made direct contact with Dumoulin’s face. Instantaneously, Alex Ovechkin sandwiched the Penguins defenseman.

Dumoulin laid out on the ice face-first before slowly getting up and leaving the game. He did not return.

Wilson said he was “at no point” trying to target Dumoulin’s head.

“I’m skating, backchecking, trying to do my job and unfortunately there’s a collision there,” Wilson said. “I’ve watched it briefly and I don’t realize what I can really do any different. I’m just trying to at the last second, I see Ovi comin in and you can see me bracing too as well. I end up getting taken out as well.”


Wilson, though, has had a history of incidents that have landed him in hot water with the league’s office. He was suspended four games to start the season for boarding St. Louis forward Sam Blias in the preseason.

The Capitals forward, too, has already had a meeting with the Department of Player Safety this postseason after a controversial hit on Columbus’ Alexander Wennberg in Game 1. Wennberg missed the next three games, but Wilson was not suspended.

Wilson’s hit on Dumoulin was not called for a penalty, which upset the Penguins.

Asked if he had an opinion of the hit, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan just answered “yes” before declining to elaborate any further.

“Given his history and things like that, I’m sure the league will take a good look at it,” Penguins star Sidney Crosby said.

The hit will also fuel more bad blood between the two teams.

Last year in the playoffs, defenseman Matt Niskanen was ejected in Game 3 for a cross check on Crosby, which gave him a concussion and caused him to miss Game 4. The incident led Penguins forward Chris Kunitz to call Niskanen’s act “deliberate.” Capitals coach Barry Trotz maintained the hit was a “hockey play.”

Dumoulin is an important piece to the Penguins’ defense, and if he misses any more time, it would be a serious blow in a series tied 1-1.

Trotz said he would let the league do its job over the hit, adding he didn’t think the league would react differently because it caused a head injury.

“I just thought it was a play where two guys get sandwiched,” Trotz said.

This season, Wilson and Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan met with George Parros, the vice president of player safety’s department, in Calgary for an hour to review different types of hits and get clarity on what is, or isn’t acceptable. The Capitals forward then went largely without an incident before the playoffs.


In the postseason, five players have been suspended for hits. Toronto’s Nazem Kadri received the harshest punishment, three games for boarding Boston forward Tommy Wingels.

Wilson said he didn’t know if he would hear from the Department of Player Safety for his latest hit.

Wilson emphasized he watched the play in slow motion multiple times, and pointed out he did not lunge at Dumoulin’s head.

“It’s hockey. It happens really fast,” Wilson said. “If you watch it at game speed, I don’t even alter my movement at all. I’m just skating straight. The way I look at it: There’s no way I can get his head from that point where I am. ... So it’s a bit of unfortunate play that he got hurt. We’ll see what happens and we’ll keep moving forward.”