Sunday afternoon, the NHL suspended Brooks Orpik three games for his head shot of Olli Maatta. Monday after the Capitals morning skate, Tom Wilson defended his teammate and also criticized NBC’s Mike Milbury.
During the first intermission of Game Two, Milbury, who has always been a lightning rod for controversy, called Orpik a “predator,” implying that the Caps defenseman was looking to injure Maatta. Orpik and Maatta are friends off the ice.
“[H]e’s one of the most honest guys in the league,” Wilson said. “He plays hard but within the rules. He’s kind of got that old school hockey, play hard, battle hard but within the rules, within the whistles type thing. He’s one of our leaders and one of the best guys around the hockey community.”
Game Two was shown at prime time on NBC and was a nationally televised game. During Caps Post Game Live, CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Alan May suggested that Milbury’s over-the-top analysis put the NHL in a tough position. Wilson, calling Milbury a “respected hockey guy,” agreed.
“I don’t think it’s fair for guys who have talk shows after the games to be calling Orpik a predator,” Wilson said. “That’s not great for players to hear. Anyone that knows Orpy knows he plays the game hard, he plays within the rules and he’s a leader and a good, honest guy. Why would you call him a predator? When you do get called those names, it’s not great.”
Wilson put the “predator” comments in contrast with Twitter, where everyone has a voice, to show why Milbury must be more responsible.
“You go on Twitter – Twitter anyone can call you a name,” Wilson said. “You don’t pay too much attention to it but you just got to worry about playing your game, worry about yourself. Obviously, playing against Pittsburgh after I got fined, you can’t even open your Twitter. You get bombarded with some pretty nasty stuff.”
“Every playoff series I seem to play I get a lot of that,” Wilson continued. “It pisses me off a little bit more when they’re going after my teammates. Respected hockey icons that have say, that have opinions on the game go and say something like that, it’s not really fair. Especially when you know Orpy, he’s such a great guy.”
Dmitry Orlov will likely take Orpik’s spot in the line-up for Game Three in Pittsburgh tonight.
“Orpy’s obviously pretty upset about it,” Wilson concluded. “He wants to be out there with us. We’re just gonna do the best to make sure that he comes back and has some meaningful games left this year.”
Addtional reporting by NHL.com’s Katie Brown. You can follow her here.
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