F Street Faithful
by Matthew Tate on 12/17/13 at 10:52 PM ET
Earlier tonight, Tom Wilson was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for charging Braden Schenn. At the time, it looked really bad and talk of suspension took over social media. I decided to sit down, look at the hit again as well as the history of charging suspensions to see what we can expect from Shanahan.
To start it off, we need to look again at Wilson's hit.
There are two key aspects of this hit. First, Tom Wilson is clearly coming in at a high speed. He starts his strides above the circle and never slows down. That's the part that makes this charging and it is as cut and dry as they come. Yes, Tom Wilson actually does coast into the circles before picking up speed and taking two strides to hit Schenn. You hear a lot about the number of strides, but NHL rules do not specify and sort of limit on strides.
The second part is Schenn violently going in to the boards. This one is a bit more ambiguous. When Tom Wilson begins to pick up speed towards Schenn, Schenn is skating along the goal line, not facing the boards. As Tom Wilson closes in, Schenn attempts to change his course and turns his back more to Wilson. Wilson's principle point of contact is the arm/shoulder, but the back of the arm. Wilson also does not leave his skates nor does he make any contact to the head.
Now that we've seen Wilson's hit, let's look at the other charging suspensions. Since Brendan Shanahan took over in 2011, there have been 15 suspensions where charging was listed as the cause. The average length of those suspensions was 2.8 games. That number is up a bit due to Andy Sutton's 8 games. Of the 15 suspensions, 13 of them were the first suspension for the player (at least under Shanahan). The average length of suspension for first-timers was 2.5. Not a huge amount of difference honestly. The two repeat offenders were Andy Sutton (8), and Martin Hanzal (2). Some other stats about those suspensions:
Two of the suspensions were 5+ games. Andy Sutton (repeat offender) and Ryan Garbutt (5)
Nearly half of the suspensions were only 2 games, including Martin Hanzal (repeat offender)
Only James Neal and Kyle Quincey, both first-timers, walked away with a lone game
Next, we have to take a look at each of those 15 charging suspensions. After watching all 15 hits, I can't say any of the others were that similar to Wilson's. Three of them involved charging the goaltender. The majority of the other 12 involved either significant contact with the head or leaping. Neither of which occurred in the case of Tom Wilson.
The one that was somewhat similar was James Neal's charge of Claude Giroux. Neal came in at a high speed and took a run at Giroux and didn't leave his skates. He did mostly miss Giroux though, so no explosive quality as is present in Wilson's hit. And it was only in conjunction with a hit earlier in that shift that Neal got suspended.
That really doesn't give us a great idea on what Wilson can expect. The hit truly becomes a problem because of the boards. If that hit happens in the middle of the ice, you probably won't see much. I really can't see them defining it as boarding, though. If Shanahan does indeed suspend Wilson, I would highly expect him to reference that Wilson has to know how close they are to the boards and alter his hit accordingly. Even though the intent really isn't there, the play is incredibly reckless and is what the League wants to remove from the game. And, since Wilson is young, it gives them a chance to teach a young rookie a lesson as to what he can and cannot do for the remainder of his career. The truth really is that Shanahan is a tough nut to crack. Still, I'd expect two games.
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Welcome to the home of the F Street Faithful, run by Matthew Tate. This is a go-to blog for all things related to the Washington Capitals. The F Street Faithful is 5% news and 95% breaking down the news.
In the past I have written for several other sports blogs as well as the college newspaper while at York College of Pennsylvania. I am a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania but am based out of Southern Maryland.
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