LAS VEGAS — Capitals forward Tom Wilson will not be suspended for his controversial hit on Golden Knights winger Jonathan Marchessault in the third period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, the NHL Department of Player Safety told ESPN.
With the score tied 4-4, Wilson laid out Marchessault with an open-ice hit after the Knights forward had already moved the puck up ice.
Marchessault, the Knights’ leading scorer in the playoffs, remained on the ice after the hit and then entered the NHL concussion protocol. He later returned to the game. Rather than a major penalty, Wilson was given two minutes for interference. Vegas winger David Perron was also given a two-minute minor for cross-checking that offset Wilson’s penalty.
Wilson claimed the hit was clean, but the Knights were upset with the call and the hit, including Marchessault.
“It was a late hit,” he said. “I don’t really need to talk more about it. I think the league will take care of it.”
But less than 24 hours later, the league decided the hit didn’t warrant a hearing.
The Department of Player Safety told ESPN that there were a few factors that kept the Wilson hit from rising to the level of suspension. First, the hit was shoulder to shoulder rather than a hit to the head.
The hit also was within the flow of the game, rather than the kind of retaliatory hits that have warranted suspensions in the past — such as the four-game ban earned by Bobby Farnham of the Devils for a hit on St. Louis Blues forward Dmitrij Jaskin in January 2016.
The NHL didn’t dispute that the hit was late but determined it wasn’t as egregiously late as other interference plays that rose to the level of suspension.
Wilson was previously suspended for three games in Washington’s second-round series against Pittsburgh for a hit that broke the jaw of Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese. Wilson is already considered a repeat offender; he was forced to sit out two preseason games following a late hit on Blues rookie Robert Thomas and was suspended for the first four games of the regular season after boarding Blues forward Sammy Blais.