Updated: May 7
NBC’s Pierre McGuire said it best during the Washington Capitals 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Wednesday night - “If Tom Wilson is suspended for one game, I wonder if we even have this [fighting and violence] going on.”
The Rangers and Capitals renewed a long and bitter rivalry on Monday, May 3rd when Capitals forward Tom Wilson took a cheap shot against a helpless Pavel Buchnevich while he was face down on the ice. The two teams got into a scrum over the punch, and Wilson proceeded to then take a helmet-less Artemi Panarin, grab him by his hair, sweep his feet out from under him, body slam him into the ice head first, and then continued to ground-and-pound Panarin, sidelining Artemi for the remainder of the season with an upper-body injury.
The NHL’s Department of Player safety reviewed the footage, and determined that the atrocious and despicable acts of Tom Wilson didn’t warrant a suspension, but rather just a slap on the wrist in the form of a $5,000 fine. The head of the Department of Player Safety, George Parros, must have forgotten that he’s working for the NHL and not the UFC.
A $5,000 fine. Remember back in 2014 when Henrik Lundqvist sprayed Sidney Crosby in the face with water? Well, if you do, you’ll remember that Lundqvist was fined - you guessed it - $5,000. Apparently, squirting the NHL’s golden boy with some water, and Tom Wilson damn-near killing Artemi Panarin are somehow on par with each other.
Call me dramatic, call it whatever you want, but Panarin is lucky to be alive after what Tom Wilson did to him. Don’t believe me? Go look up the story of Bill Masterton, Timur Faizutdinov, Don Sanderson, or even Derek Boogaard - four players who tragically passed away as a result of on-ice head injuries.
After George Parros’ inability to do his job correctly, and after the NHL showing that they clearly haven’t learned their lesson from the passing of Masterton, Faizutdinov, Sanderson and Boogaard, the New York Rangers took matters into their own hands on Wednesday night, in a nationally televised broadcast that looked less like a hockey game and more like the WWE’s Royal Rumble. What was the best part about Wednesday night’s game? The fact that George Parros was in attendance at Madison Square Garden to watch the chaos that he caused unfold, and Tom Wilson leaving the game with an (apparent) upper-body injury. Maybe Wilson is just a coward though, who knows?
And that’s the beautiful thing about hockey that you don’t get to see in other team sports, when the league and it’s officials refuse to do their job, the game and the players can and will police themselves/itself. You should check out a very interesting documentary on “The Code.” An unwritten code of conduct between hockey players when it comes to fighting and standing up for their teammates.
The NHL has a Tom Wilson and George Parros problem. And the only reason I couple Parros with Wilson, is because of Parros’ unwillingness to ever want to discipline the game’s most dangerous player - and when I say "dangerous" I don’t mean it in a skill-based way.
Wilson is a repeat offender who has a long history of targeting and injuring other players in some of the most despicable ways. In fact, Wilson served a seven-game suspension earlier in the season after he boarded Boston Bruins’ defenseman Brandon Carlo, a hit in which Carlo suffered minor brain damage.
A report has since surfaced that George Parros didn’t want to suspend Wilson for the Carlo incident either. What?! A player that you’re supposed to be protecting suffers minor brain damage and you don’t think that warrants a suspension? Shame, shame, shame on you, George.
Fans throughout the league have taken to Twitter and other forms of social media to vent their frustration over the Wilson/Parros pairing. Does Wilson have dirt on Parros? He has to have some sort of blackmail, right? There’s no way that the NFL, NBA or MLB would put up with this kind of behavior from one of their players, especially the NFL after all the fire that they’ve received over the years due to head injuries. With all the technology we have today, highlighting the horrible long-term effects that brain damage has on people, there’s no possible way that the NHL can continue to allow players like Tom Wilson to headhunt.
A message needs to be sent, and it needs to be sent quickly. After the Brandon Carlo incident, many fans have called for the league to ban Tom Wilson from ever suiting up and playing hockey in the NHL again, and now we have the Artemi Panarin incident, which furthers the people’s hatred for Tom Wilson.
The New York Rangers organization released a statement calling for the league to fire George Parros. The press-release then conjured up some internal problems within the Rangers organization that I won’t get into in this article.
Shame on you George Parros, and shame on you Gary Bettman. The two of you get paid millions of dollars a year to make sure that your players are safe and taken care of, and by allowing Tom Wilson to continue to play the way that he has, you are turning your back on the duties that you were brought in to do.
What is it going to take before the league steps in and does something about Tom Wilson and his dangerous shenanigans? One thing is for sure, this guy is going to hurt someone really badly one day. The warning signs are there, and it’ll be a damn shame if it takes a career ending injury - or worse - before Wilson is dealt with by the league.
Follow me on Twitter for all your NHL news, updates and rumors. @NY_cth.