NEWARK, NJ — Zach Aston-Reese was sitting alone at his locker Tuesday morning inside Prudential Center when the news was broken to him that the Capitals' Tom Wilson just had his latest NHL suspension reduced by an arbitrator from 20 games to 14.
He didn't seem interested in discussing it.
"I'm kind of over all this," Aston-Reese said after the Penguins' morning skate. "All I've been thinking about is staying in the lineup and helping the team win."
Aston-Reese, of course, was the player Wilson hit high in the most recent Stanley Cup playoffs, breaking his jaw and concussing him in the process. That hit was Aston-Reese's final moment of the season, and Wilson went on to hoist the Cup after being suspended for three games.
Wilson didn't wait for the regular season and title defense to start before finding himself suspended again. This time, it was 20 games for hitting the Blues' Oskar Sundqvist, also for a targeted hit to the head, and this time the NHL hit hard. Missing 20 games is a good chunk of the season to miss, nearly a quarter of it, but the key to the suspension was the more than $1.25 million Wilson would lose based on his newly-signed extension.
Wilson appealed, and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman upheld the 20 game decision.
Tuesday morning, however, it was announced that an independent arbitrator, Shyam Das, reduced the suspension, following a second appeal, to 14 games from the initial 20. The Capitals have played 16 games, so this makes Wilson immediately eligible for his team when they play the Wild tonight, and he can receive pay for two of the games he has missed.
Sidney Crosby was also dismissive on the subject.
"I think they have a way of going through the process that everyone is comfortable with," he said on the reduction. "It's case-by-case and that's how it gets done. I trust the process."
Barring another incident, the next time the Penguins will see Wilson is Dec. 19 when the Penguins play again in Washington. That would have fallen after his original suspension.
MATT SUNDAY GALLERY
[caption id="attachment_720190" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Penguins at Devils, morning skate, Newark, NJ, Nov. 13, 2018 - MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]