Capitals coach Peter Laviolette came to his player's defense after Friday night's Bruins-Capitals game, saying that Tom Wilson's hit to Brandon Carlo's head, which sent Carlo to the hospital, looked like "just a hit" to him.
That was questionable enough, but if you wanted to, you could give him the benefit of the doubt of commenting right after the game, getting caught up in the moment, not knowing the severity of Carlo's injury, etc.
Perhaps with a chance to sleep on it, take a closer look and cool down a little, Laviolette might not strike as defiant a tone the next day.
Wrong. Not only did Laviolette double down on his comments Saturday, but he expanded on them and threw out over-the-top exaggerations about this marking the end of hitting in hockey all together if Wilson gets suspended for it.
"I guess we’re still hopeful (he will play Sunday)," Laviolette said, as transcribed by Samantha Pell of the Washington Post. "I mean, to me, it was a hockey hit. If this is a suspendable play then all hitting really is going to probably have to be removed because he didn’t take any strides, he didn’t target the head, a player was up against the boards, he was upright and Tom hit him hard. I hope the player’s OK, but, for me, the call I think was correct on the ice last night. This hit happens so many times through the course of the game where somebody hits somebody against the boards and so I think we’re still hopeful that Tom will be available to us."
Come on, man. This is pathetic. Wilson quite clearly did target Carlo's head, or at best inadvertently made it the main point of contact (and let's be real here -- Wilson deserves no benefit of the doubt whatsoever based on his history).
And hits like this don't happen every game. I mean, we're talking about a guy getting hit in the head so hard he had to spend the night in the hospital (Carlo was released from the hospital Saturday morning and is back home now). Maybe Laviolette's been coaching in some different sport all these years, but that's not exactly a common occurrence.
The refs for Friday's game apparently agreed with Laviolette at the time, as they somehow didn't call any penalty at all on Wilson. It appears the Department of Player Safety feels differently, though. They offered Wilson an in-person hearing via Zoom, signaling that they will likely be issuing a suspension of longer than five games.
Regardless, Laviolette has made his choice on where he's going to stand on this. Instead of holding Wilson accountable, he wants to be one of his enablers.