- The New York Rangers have released a statement condemning the NHL’s Department of Player Safety head George Parros, asking for his termination
- Wilson punched Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich in the back of the head, initiating a scrum before slamming a helmetless Artemi Panarin to the ice
- Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson was fined $5,000 on Tuesday for his actions in Monday’s game against the Rangers
In case you haven’t heard, there was just a tidbit of controversy in a matchup between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers last night at Madison Square Garden involving Capitals goon Tom Wilson.
Wilson, a talented hockey player to be sure, was up to his old, non-hockey-related tricks with intent to injure on the forefront of his mind in an otherwise run-of-the-mill, regular-season National Hockey League game.
There have been a couple new developments regarding the situation today, so let’s run through what happened here. There’s the act, the discipline (or lack thereof) and the unprecedented statement released by the Rangers themselves.
In case you (somehow) missed it, here’s what went down last night:
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) May 4, 2021
So there’s Wilson taking Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich into his own goalie himself, going down to his knees and throwing a sucker punch to the back of the unsuspecting Buchnevich’s head.
Now, here’s what followed:
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) May 4, 2021
Rangers center Ryan Strome comes to his defenseless teammate’s aid, pulling Wilson off of Buchnevich. Once Wilson starts attacking Strome, Rangers superstar Artemi Panarin does his part to de-escalate the situation and protect his own teammate.
Again, let’s see what happens next:
This is Tom Wilson of the NHL @capitals committing assault on Artemi Panarin of New York last night, his second attack on a player in the fight. The league will shrug its shoulders and let a team avenge of all of Wilson’s victims. It should, in fact, #BanTomWilsonForLife pic.twitter.com/ZxnBYLaJuk
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) May 4, 2021
Wilson, knowing he’s in a scrum with a superstar and one of the NHL’s best players who his 50 pounds his junior, slams a helmetless Panarin to the ice heard first, throws some punches, and attempts another head slam before the officials finally break up the madness.
The Rangers announced shortly after that Panarin suffered a lower-body injury and would miss the team’s remaining three games of the season. In all honestly, it could have been a heck of a lot worse considering the UFC-style takedown on a player not wearing a helmet.
Immediately after the incident, hockey Twitter blew up knowing that the oft-suspended Wilson would certainly be in for it this time. There’s no way he could get away with this type of WWF behavior in an NHL game. In fact, he started the entire thing with the punch to the back of the head of an unsuspecting opponent who Wilson rode to the crease himself.
Well, in true NHL Player Safety fashion, head honcho George Parros — a former NHL enforcer himself — slapped Wilson with a whopping $5,000 fine for roughing, the maximum allowed under the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.
That’s right. Tom Wilson, he of five career suspensions INCLUDING ONE THIS SEASON FOR 7 GAMES didn’t get a single game for a maneuver that could have ended a player’s career. Seriously, imagine if Panarin’s head cracked off that ice surface. It’s a miracle it didn’t, but it wasn’t because Wilson didn’t want it to.
That aforementioned suspension this season was for a hit to the head of Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo in a game on March 6, 2021. Carlo returned tonight, two months since the incident due to ongoing concussion issues and according to The Athletic’s Rick Carpiniello, Parros didn’t even want to suspend him for that one!
First, here’s the hit:
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 7, 2021
Now, a quote from Carpiniello’s piece (subscription required):
“Parros, we’ve heard, didn’t even want to suspend Wilson for the brain-damaging assault on Boston’s Brandon Carlo, who suffered mood changes and blurry vision from his concussion after being hospitalized by Wilson in March. Bettman didn’t like the optics and ordered a suspension. So Wilson got even games. Before that, he wasn’t even considered a repeat offender, because the CBA erases priors after a certain period of time expires.”
Heck, here’s what former NHL enforcer John Scott had to say about the situation. Surely if he can be this baffled, Parros needs to give his head a shake.
My thoughts on the Tom Wilson situation pic.twitter.com/GUbNfgV963
— John Scott (@johnscott_32) May 4, 2021
Man, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety has bungled things up badly in the past, but this one takes the cake.
In an unprecedented move, the Rangers themselves released an official statement, condemning everyone from Wilson to Parros, even calling for the latter to be removed from his post as the head decision-maker of the safety department.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) May 4, 2021
“The New York Rangers are extremely disappointed that Capitals forward Tom Wilson was not suspended for his horrifying act of violence last night at Madison Square Garden. Wilson is a repeat offender with a long history of these type of acts and we find it shocking that the NHL and their Department of Player Safety failed to take the appropriate action and suspend him indefinitely. Wilson’s dangerous and reckless actions caused an injury to Artemi Panarin that will prevent him from playing again this season. We view this as a dereliction of duty by NHL head of player safety, George Parros, and believe he is unfit to continue in his current role.”
I’m not sure if I have ever seen a professional sports team essentially call for the head of a league official quite like that. And good for them. Wilson makes $5,166,666 per annum, and the league delivered the blow of a cool $5K from that sum. Wilson made more money while sitting in the penalty box last night at MSG.
It’s been a whirlwind 24 hours in the NHL, and it’s unfortunate as none of it has to do with hockey. A brut simply decided to start picking on players a few dozen pounds lighter than him, because he can as most team don’t employ enforcers anymore, and while Wilson is a talented hockey player as well, he’s the rarest of breeds in today’s NHL.