If it was any other player besides Tom Wilson who had cheapshotted New York Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich in the crease with a hit to the back of his head and then slammed a helmet-less Artemi Panarin to the ice, a $5,000 fine (the maximum allowed by the collective bargaining agreement) might seem like too little, but still within the realm of justified.
But this was Tom Wilson.
That’s the same Washington Capitals forward who has, time and time again, delivered controversial hits and dangerous moves. He’s been suspended five times, including for 20 games for a hit to Oskar Sundqvist in 2018 that was reduced to 14 contests after an appeal. The league banned him seven games for an awful, reckless hit to the head of Brandon Carlo in March.
So why doesn’t history suddenly count here? Any credibility earned from punishing previous infractions — and there wasn’t much to begin with — is gone.
Wilson’s actions — and lack of remorse, with the way he flexed in the penalty box — and history were more than enough to justify the league coming down hard on the forward. At what point does the NHL say enough is enough? Again, this is not a fourth liner with no prior history bashing a defenseless player’s head into the ice.
Tom Wilson gets a 10-minute misconduct for punching Buchnevich in the head on the ground and body slamming Panarin pic.twitter.com/fg2HRej8yD
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) May 4, 2021
tom wilson is insane. and not in a good way. pic.twitter.com/lYpX7vGNZZ
— ✰ava✰ (@goaIcaufield) May 4, 2021
This isn’t about the NHL protected Panarin, one of the league’s best and most exciting players. It’s about the league protecting every player. Exactly zero professional hockey players should be put in a position where they are wrestled by someone 50 pounds heavier, lose the helmet protecting their head and brain, and are nevertheless tossed to the ice and subjected to punches. Hockey is a physical game, sure, but that can’t be OK. Not anymore.
Washington’s Tom Wilson has been fined $5,000, the maximum allowable under the CBA, for Roughing NY Rangers’ Pavel Buchnevich.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) May 4, 2021
It should be a suspension, and — at least — it should be the rest of the season and postseason. Only that sends the right message.
Now, the NHL is setting up a situation that’s dangerous for both the Rangers and for Wilson himself. The Caps and Rangers play Wednesday night, and you can bet New York players will want some sort of revenge (right or not) for Wilson’s disgusting display (even if you believe he deserves what might be coming to him, that’s not right either). Someone is going to get hurt badly and it would be on the NHL if Gary Bettman and Co. don’t do more here.
By the way, the Capitals are just as culpable here, and they should, at the very least, scratch Wilson for Wednesday’s game. Check out …read more
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