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Penguins players decline to celebrate suspension of Washington’s Tom Wilson

October 6, 2018

Blues center Oskar Sundqvist is tended to after he was checked by Capitals right wing Tom Wilson during the second period Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, in Washington.

If the Pittsburgh Penguins are happy to avoid facing controversial Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson in their season opener Thursday night, they kept that sentiment to themselves after morning skate.

Wilson was handed a 20-game suspension by the NHL’s department of player safety on Wednesday for an illegal check to the head of St. Louis Blues center Oskar Sundqvist in an exhibition game.

The stern punishment was a clear indication that the NHL expects the physical Wilson to change his ways. He has been suspended four times in the past 13 months, including a three-game playoff ban for giving Zach Aston-Reese a concussion and broken jaw in last year’s playoffs.

A sampling of players in the Penguins locker room after morning skate seemed to show some mild satisfaction, but nothing that approached a celebration.

“Those are the hits you don’t want to see in the game,” center Derick Brassard said. “He’s a good player. He’s an important player for their team. There’s not a lot of players that play like he does. But it is what it is. The league took care of it. We’re just going to try to focus on playing them without him tonight.”

Jamie Oleksiak tried to fight Wilson immediately after his hit on Aston-Reese in last year’s playoffs, but his invitation was declined. He showed no emotion after the league meted out its brand of justice on Wednesday.

“That’s the league’s decision. They have their reasonings behind that and whatnot,” Oleksiak said. “I think you definitely have to be aware when you’re playing a physical game. It is what it is, I guess.”

Follow the Pittsburgh Penguins all season long.

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