Now, I’m not going to sit here and preach how much we dislike Ryan Reaves or how dirty the hit was on Tom Wilson. I am going to give my honest analysis of the hit, the disciplinary action given, and my final thoughts.
Image from The Athletic
Last night in Las Vegas, Reaves was ejected from the game for an open-ice, blind-side hit on Wilson that left him on the ice and forced him to leave the game. Some Golden Knights fans rejoiced that Reaves had slain the Caps’ tough guy, then expressed their anger once he was ejected. Many Caps fans (including myself) immediately pointed the finger calling it a dirty hit, then expressed their concern for Wilson who did not return that night.
Let’s analyze the hit. First off, the hit was a shoulder-to-shoulder hit and just barely within the given time of puck release to not count as interference. Yes, Wilson was unaware that Reaves had him locked in. From release of the puck for a breakout pass to the contact with Reaves was 0.6 seconds, according to expert analysis Alan May of NBC Sports Washington Capitals Intermission Report. The window of finishing your check after release is 0.7 seconds, which leaves a 0.1 second buffer. Close in numbers, but legal.
Image from USA Today
The main point of injury to Wilson was not the initial contact from Reaves. The hit did jar his helmet off, making his bare head vulnerable. The main point of injury came from Wilson bouncing his head off the ice after contact. Very scary given who hit him and how he bounced off the ice. He was helped off and did not return to the game, obvious concussion protocol.
Reaves was given a 5-minute game misconduct and a game ejection for the hit following the injury. At first sight, like I’m sure many of you were the same, I wanted Reaves crucified by the Department of Player Safety (DoPS) with a hefty suspension. After reviewing the hit myself a few times and hearing the experts analyze it, I do believe it was not suspension worthy. DoPS thought the same and did not issue any disciplinary action for number 75 of the Vegas Golden Knights.
DoPS made the right call. As much as I dislike the blind-side hit, I don’t believe it’s suspension worthy. An unfortunate break for Tom and prayers go out to him for a speedy recovery.