Once again, Tom Wilson is being talked about for all the wrong reasons. On Friday afternoon, the NHL fined Wilson $2,403.67, the maximum allowable under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for kneeing Pittsburgh’s Conor Sheary.
Sheary missed a few shifts after the hit but stayed in the game.
Speaking before the fine was levied by the Department of Player Safety, Capitals head coach Barry Trotz admitted Wilson should have avoided the hit, though he described it as “shin-on-shin.”
“We’ll leave it up to the league,” Trotz said. “Whatever they decide, I think we’re fine with it. That’s what their job is. You gotta respect. Player Safety with the NHL has done, I think, a good job.”
Wilson is a player who has come to be known as a pest and someone who plays on the edge of what’s appropriate in the today’s NHL. It’s a reputation that is, frankly, well deserved.
“I thought it was okay,” Trotz said of the hit in Game One, sounding tepid in his defense, “but it wasn’t really necessary.”
Wilson was lucky to escape without a suspension. When Wilson hit Sheary, the puck was nowhere in sight. Wilson leaned into Sheary, leading with his knee. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin immediately pulled Wilson off the ice after the hit, trying to mitigate the damage. While Wilson can draw penalties, these these types of plays often hurt his team and risk the safety of other players.
As for the Penguins, they brushed the hit off. They best way to react to Wilson, coach Mike Sullivan and his players said, was not to be goaded into retaliatory penalties.
“I think we just have to play hockey,” former Capitals forward Eric Fehr said. “We’re trying to score goals. We’re trying to make plays. If he’s going to take runs at us, we just gotta move pucks by him and create some odd-man rushes. I think that’s the best way to make him pay for that.”
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