Defenseman Brendan Smith, 32, left the New York Rangers over the offseason and signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes.
On Friday, Smith was a guest on SiriusXM NHL Network Radio’s Hockey Today and was asked about the Tom Wilson incident from last May.
Wilson’s antics led to a line brawl between the two teams which saw the Capitals enforcer punch Pavel Buchnevich from behind and ragdoll superstar Artemi Panarin to the ice after the All-Star jumped in to defend his teammate. The fireworks led to a bizarre, overly aggressive press release from the Rangers, which saw the team call Wilson’s actions a “horrifying act of violence.” A second line-brawl occurred during the teams’ rematch two nights later where Smith eventually fought Wilson. Weeks later, the Rangers cleaned house, firing virtually everyone in the front office and its coaching staff. New Rangers GM Chris Drury then signed three enforcers over the offseason, including Ryan Reaves. Barclay Goodrow predicted the two teams’ Opening Night game should be “interesting.”
What seems like a vast overreaction is not according to Smith, who explained there are things yet to be revealed that will make the Rangers the protagonists in this story.
“It was quite an interesting 48 hours or whatever it was,” Smith said. “I was definitely a little nervous. Tom’s one of the toughest guys in the league. He’s a heavyweight so that’s an interesting task for myself as I wouldn’t consider myself a heavyweight by any means. You just have to answer the bell.
“To be honest, once my career is over, there’ll be more info that will come to fruition about the whole incident,” Smith added. “All I can say at the moment is that I personally wish the league handled it a little bit differently. I think that we had to take care of our superstars 100 percent and then it wouldn’t have hit the fan like it did.”
While the two teams’ violence might seem ridiculous to some, Smith said that the heart shown in all the fights is what he cherishes most about the sport.
“The one thing that I love about hockey is that guys stand up for each other,” Smith said. “I was so impressed and it gave me chills to see what the players on the Rangers did. It speak volumes, not just for the New York Rangers, but the league itself. I also have to attest for a lot of the Washington players. It should not have been their fight or their battle, but that’s why I love the game so much.”
But those additional details about Wilson and the fight. Smith was not spilling.
“Like I said, in 15 years when my career is over, there will be more things that will come up,” Smith said. “As of right now, we try to keep it a little bit closer to home and I’ll say how impressed I was about how everything was handled.”
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk/RMNB
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