Capitals’ Tom Wilson suspended 6 games for high-sticking Noah Gregor

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Tom Wilson’s past has left him with no benefit of the doubt in the present, which is why the NHL’s department of player safety handed the Washington Capitals forward a six-game suspension Friday for high-sticking Noah Gregor of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The play in question was careless, or even reckless, but it didn’t appear to be malicious. You can count Gregor among those who thought the one-handed chop he took to the face was accidental.

Still, that wasn’t enough to keep Wilson from matching the longest suspension handed out during this NHL season.

Wilson will forfeit $161,458.32 as part of the punishment, bringing his career total of salary lost to suspensions and fines to more than $1.4 million.

Across an 11-year NHL career, he’s now received six suspensions, three fines and numerous other warnings.

The latest ban will sideline him from Washington’s playoff push until April 4. The Capitals entered play Friday three points behind Detroit for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, Wilson has 48 hours to launch an appeal. The first one would be heard by Gary Bettman. Should the NHL commissioner uphold the ruling, Wilson would have the option to take the case to a neutral arbitrator.

Wilson went down that road after receiving a 20-game suspension for a dangerous hit on St. Louis’ Oskar Sundqvist in October 2018. The arbitrator reduced his punishment to 14 games in that case.

That was part of a 15-month stretch where Wilson had multiple in-person meetings with George Parros, the NHL’s senior vice president of player safety, to discuss curbing behavior that saw him suspended on four separate occasions and sit out three playoff games, 18 regular-season games and two preseason games.

Wilson apologized to Gregor immediately after striking him in the face with enough force to chip a couple of his teeth during Wednesday’s game. After first delivering a bodycheck on the Leafs forward, Wilson swung his stick around Gregor’s body and made direct contact with his chin and mouth — earning a double minor for high-sticking late in a 7-3 loss to the Leafs.

“I don’t think he’s trying to slash a guy in the face,” Gregor told reporters in Toronto after practice Friday. “I don’t think anyone in the league is ever trying to do that. Probably a little reckless with the stick and unfortunately got me, but I’m fine.”

Tom Wilson’s rap sheet

March 22, 2024: Suspended six games for high-sticking Toronto’s Noah Gregor, forfeiting $161,458.32 in salary.

May 4, 2021: Fined $5,000 for roughing the Rangers’ Pavel Buchnevich.

March 6, 2021: Suspended seven games for boarding Boston’s Brandon Carlo, forfeiting $311,781.61 in salary.

Oct. 3, 2018: Suspended 14 games after an appeal for an illegal check to the head of St. Louis’ Oskar Sundqvist, forfeiting $882,113.88 in salary.

May 2, 2018: Suspended three playoff games for an illegal check to the head of Pittsburgh’s Zach Aston-Reese.

Oct. 3, 2017: Suspended four games for boarding St. Louis’ Sammy Blais, forfeiting $97,560.96 in salary

Sept. 23, 2017: Suspended two preaseason games for interference against St. Louis’ Robert Thomas.

April 29, 2016: Fined $2,403.67 for kneeing Pittsburgh’s Conor Sheary.

March 27, 2015: Fined $2,000 by NHL for incurring two diving infractions.

(Photo: Patrick Smith / Getty Images)

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