The National Hockey League seems to have a discipline problem on their hands, specifically a problem with holding their players to their full suspensions. This comes after Nashville Predators Austin Watson’s 27 game suspension for domestic violence was reduced to 18 games after a neutral arbitrator was brought in to his appeal, yet Washington Capital’s Tom Wilson’s 20 game suspension was upheld by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman this afternoon.
So what’s the appeal policy?
From what I understand the NHL has a policy where the first appeal goes through Commissioner Gary Bettman and then if necessary the second appeal goes through a third party arbitrator, which is how Nashville Predators’ Austin Watson got his 27 game suspension reduced to 18 after a domestic assault against his girlfriend back in June.
Given Washington Capitals’ Tom Wilson’s history of discipline, I think that maybe his appeal should’ve just automatically been heard by a third party. Not because I don’t think that Wilson should’ve been punished for the hit, but because I think that in the effort of fairness he should’ve had an unbiased third party overseeing his appeal. Especially after Bettman is quoted as saying that he hoped “this suspension served as a wake-up call for Wilson.”
I do agree that I hope this suspension does make Wilson take a real hard look at his game and see where he can make adjustments to avoid any illegal hits. But after reading the Player Safety Vice President George Parros has had two conversations with Wilson about just adjustments and he still got in trouble for another hit.
Now as briefly mentioned above, the next step Wilson can take is appealing to a third party, which could take a long time and if his suspension is reduced will only get him money in return. His history of discipline and the conversations with Parros could hurt Wilson because even a third party would see that something just isn’t clicking with Wilson in terms of learning from his mistakes. Maybe it would be in his best interest to just sit the twenty games and come back with fresh legs to help the Capitals in their effort to go back to the Stanley Cup Finals.
We’ll see in the coming days what move Wilson wants to take next, because if he does go for the third party arbitrator who knows who long that would take/when he could be back on the ice.