Capitals winger Tom Wilson avoided a hefty punishment for his dirty hits to Pavel Buchnevich and Artemi Panarin in a scrap with the Rangers.
In the second period with New York up 3-2, a play at Washington’s net led to a scrap between the two teams. With Buchnevich lying on the ice defenseless, Wilson gave the Rangers forward a few cheap shots to the head.
The scrum continued with Ryan Strome pulling Wilson off of Buchnevich, before Panarin jumped in to pull the two apart.
Wilson turned to Panarin, wrestling the Rangers’ star’s helmet off before throwing him down to the ice head-first.
Video seemed to show Wilson grabbing Panarin’s hair as he pulled him down, though upon review the NHL Department of Player Safety said they found no definitive evidence.
After the chaos, Wilson was assessed a 10-minute misconduct, though Panarin and were also penalized for two minutes each.
“We all saw it,” said Rangers head coach David Quinn following the game. “There are lines that can’t be crossed in this game. There’s just zero respect for the game in general.”
Quinn was not the only member of the Rangers to speak up after the game. Star center Mika Zibanejad also had words for Wilson.
“I figure you should have more respect for the game and for the players. It’s just horrible,” he remarked.
On Tuesday, the announcment came regarding Wilson’s punishment. While many expected a heft suspension as the incident is far from Wilson’s first, he walked away with a single $5,000 fine for the cheap shot on Buchnevich.
The decision is strange given the severity of the hits, though given the NHL’s track record regarding suspensions and discipline, it’s not the first time it’s happened.
Wilson is no stranger to suspensions, picking up four over the span of just over 100 games played. Wilson was also given a 7-game suspension earlier this year after a brual hit on Boston’s Brandon Carlo that sent the Bruins defenseman to the hospital for a night.
It seems despite Wilson’s constant dangerous play and refusal to clean up his game, the NHL is prioritizing money over player safety and the integrity of the game.
With the Rangers and Capitals facing off again Wednesday night on national TV and Washington poised for another deep postseason run, Wilson is sure to make plenty more appearances on primetime television.
To rub salt in the wound, the Rangers were officially eliminated from postseason contention as Washington came back to win 6-3.
Monday’s game was also the last of the year for Panarin, who left with a lower body injury after serving his penalty. Jacob Trouba and Ryan Lindgren are also out for the final games of the year.
Even with a handful of players out for New York, the final games of the year can give young stars a change to keep improving before next year.
The Rangers rebuild seems to be over, though this young team still needs more experience, and possibly a bit more fight and grit as they look to fine tune their roster with a big offseason ahead.