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The NHL and NHL Player Safety gave longtime Capitals instigator Tom Wilson yet another inconsequential slap on the wrist in the form a $5,000 fine for his barbaric behavior against the Rangers Monday night – and the Blueshirts feel betrayed.
So much so that the organization released a scathing statement on Tuesday, expressing how furious it is with Wilson’s mild punishment and asserting that NHL head of player safety, George Parros, is “unfit to continue in his current role.”
“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,” the team statement read. “Wilson is a repeat offender with a long history of these type of acts and we find it shocking that they 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.”
Between drilling a defenseless Pavel Buchnevich further into the ice and then ravaging a helmet-less Panarin, which officially ended the star winger’s season, the Rangers clearly felt there was more than enough evidence for Wilson to be suspended.
Instead, Wilson was hit with a meager fee, the maximum allowable under the CBA, for “roughing” Buchnevich – which equates to approximately .000967 percent of his $5,166,666 salary he is due this season.
“I just think it’s a joke, to be honest with you,” said Ryan Strome, who was part of the tussle. “I know it’s not my responsibility to make decisions, but I just can’t believe that. I think it sends a bad message, in my opinion. I think everyone pretty much agrees with that. I just think that the league missed one here big time.
“It’s unfortunate, our best player is out for the rest of the year. It’s just an unfortunate incident that had nothing to do with the play, or the game of hockey. I think that’s kind of where the big issue is.”
Strome, often a voice of reason for the Rangers, made a point to highlight that Wilson is a skilled player who can produce in the league, but that he crossed a line. Strome then turned his attention to the NHL and didn’t mince his words.
“As players, you want the league to have your back in those situations,” he said. “I think a lot of guys in our dressing room just feel like they didn’t.”
Head coach David Quinn also condemned the league’s lack of discipline for Wilson, saying the Rangers as an organization were “disappointed” and that they thought what transpired “warranted a suspension.”
As for how he expects the Rangers to respond in Thursday’s rematch with the Capitals, Quinn said he knows what he’ll see from his team.
“We’ve talked about it as a team this morning,” he said. “The fact is, we’ve got to protect each other. We’ve got to stick by each other, which is what we did last night. There’s different ways to do it. The way we’re built, it’s not going to be a brawling situation, for sure. But that being said, we can play hard and protect each other and that’s what we have to do.”
Quinn wouldn’t divulge his philosophy on holding players accountable if the league won’t. But the Rangers have two recalls remaining with three games left in their season, and the very player who could add some much-needed grit to the lineup is currently with the team’s AHL affiliate in Hartford.
His name is Mason Geertsen, a 6-foot-4, 216-pound defensemen who has 43 penalty minutes in 18 AHL games this season, and had 109 in 60 games last year. In fact, he had a goal in the Wolf Pack’s win against the Islanders’ Bridgeport Sound Tigers Tuesday.
Asked if a call-up was on the table, Quinn was noncommittal.
“We’ve talked about a lot of different scenarios,” he said.