When the NHL has a hearing and decides not to suspend a player, it requires some thorough explanation to justify the decision.
Which is why the Department of Player Safety released a video that’s over three minutes long, breaking down why Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson wasn’t given any supplemental discipline for his charging hit on Brayden Schenn of the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.
We’re talking “coach’s diagram” specific:
Essentially, the NHL argued that Brayden Schenn knew Wilson was coming and by turning his back on the play put himself in harm’s way. If there was an injury here, significant or otherwise, the fault falls to the Flyers forward for turning his back on Wilson.
The other facet of this was the charging call on Wilson, the NHL buys his argument that he didn’t commit to the hit until he was well into the offensive zone, and that he was skating in as a forechecker and not taking a full skate from the neutral zone to hit him.
Hence, no suspension.
If the NHL wants to justify its decision not to ban Wilson for a couple of games with this evidence, it’s compelling enough to do so – especially the indictment of Schenn’s role in the potential injury.
But again, we come back this from the rulebook on charging:
Charging shall mean the actions of a player who, as a result of distance traveled, shall violently check an opponent in any manner. A “charge” may be the result of a check into the boards, into the goal frame or in open ice.
Do we need to dip back into the NHL constitution and rephrase it as, “the actions of a player who, as a result of a distance traveled and with the clear intention to travel that distance to deliver a hit, shall violently check an opponent in any manner”?
Because if I'm a Flyers fan, I'm wondering where "intent of the hitter" is stated anywhere in that rule. And that seems to be the basis of the NHL's decision not to suspend him.
But the ultimate factor here, to me, is the lack of injury.
The NHL could let Wilson off and not worry about too much backlash because Schenn claims he's fine. But as always: If this is a stretcher incident, are we still hearing Brendan Shanahan breaking down the role of the F2 forechecker or is he telling us how many games Wilson's getting?