The last place Tom Wilson would live is in Pittsburgh, but weeks after the Caps-Pens series ended, he still has a residence in the head of Penguins’ general manager Jim Rutherford.
Monday, in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey, Rutherford said he was upset with Wilson, a first-line forward, for not accepting a fight with Jamie Oleksiak.
“When Jamie challenged Wilson, he couldn’t run quick enough to get away from him,” Rutherford claimed in the interview.
Rutherford is referencing an incident that happened during Game Three of the Caps-Pens series. After Wilson landed an illegal check to the head of Zach Aston-Reese, Oleksiak tried to fight Wilson. According to Rutherford, Wilson declined multiple times.
Wilson was later suspended three games by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety and missed the rest of the series. Aston-Reese’s jaw was broke on the hit.
Rutherford added that having former Penguins forward Ryan Reaves still on the roster would have offset Wilson’s physicality in the series.The Penguins traded The Human Goal Siren to the Vegas Golden Knights at the trade deadline in a three-way deal. Reaves scored the game-winning goal that sent the Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final on Sunday.
Rutherford believed the 6-foot-7 Oleksiak could step up in Reaves absence if given the opportunity. Before arriving in Pittsburgh, Oleksiak had 100 penalty minutes. In his 47 regular season games with the Penguins, Oleksiak added 69 (nice), including 5 fighting majors.
Rutherford said Wilson only got in the faces of Penguins players when referees were already involved.
“We have a guy who can do it,” Rutherford said, “but when you talk about that style of player, it’s hard to go after a player because the referees get in or some guys go the other way when it comes time to having a fight.”
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