Tom Wilson may not have spoken to the media once over the summer, but that still didn’t keep his name from trending on Twitter several times during the offseason.
Wilson, whose antics in May started a line brawl which basically led to a full revamp of the New York Rangers, became a key conversation point on social media as NYR added more and more toughness to their lineup. The team landed Barclay Goodrow from the Lightning, signed Jarred Tinordi, and acquired Ryan Reaves — the self-proclamed solution to your Tom Wilson problem — from the Vegas Golden Knights.
Wilson saw all those headlines and chatter. Thursday, he finally had a chance to respond for the first time.
“Yeah. I don’t know,” Wilson said when he was asked if he was surprised by the Rangers’ moves. “I think there’s something with that team that had nothing to do with me and it might have been a perfect storm where it all came to a tee at the right moment. It was probably boiling over to begin with. And people like to jump on the party whatever people are saying. I think it’s good. They obviously wanted to play tougher. They wanted to bring in some grit.
Then he diagnosed what he saw was one of the main problems in the line brawl.
“In the first place, there shouldn’t be a guy like Panarin jumping on my back, you know?” Wilson said. “That whole situation, I won’t speak to it too much, but he shouldn’t feel like he should have ever had to do that. There are things in the games of hockey, teammates stand up for each other and stuff.
“[Panarin] is one of my favorite players in the league. He really is. He’s got a great personality. He’s a great hockey player. So I’m glad that’s in the rearview a little and they made some moves that they think is going to make their team better. Maybe it does have a little bit to do with the toughness in the division. I wouldn’t credit that to me.”
The Capitals enforcer then laid out what he thought was the Rangers’ thinking in some of their offseason moves.
“I think the new guys in there are trying to make that team better and contend to make the playoffs,” he said. “I think that’s maybe the professional answer, but I truly believe the Metro is a tough division. It’s not by any means me. There are other teams that play tough. Big Zee is back in the Metro. So that’ll be fun. It’s a tough division and the game’s trending speed and skill for so long and now there’s another wave of big and heavy, and it does that. Like if you look back, every five years it shuffles.”
Ultimately, his focus is not on the Rangers.
“I’m worried about what’s in this room,” Wilson said. “I’ve said that before, but it’s true. I’m worried about our guys, our organization winning games. Whatever another organization wants to do, certainly it made a few headlines and I don’t know if you call it a distraction or whatever, but it was a lot of heat on social media and stuff. That’s anyone these days it seems like on social media. It’s a little bit of a dark place.”
Whatever beef still simmering between the Capitals and Rangers will be settled on Opening Night – a game Barclay Goodrow believes “should be interesting.” Reaves, in an interview before being traded to the Rangers, said he would have reacted to Wilson by “fighting three times that game” if the burly forward wasn’t kicked out by officials.
“There’s a big spotlight on that game,” Wilson said. “That’s what makes sports great. The rivalries. The emotion. The passion. We’ll call it that to be polite.
“I think that’s why hockey’s such a great game,” he added. “Teammates sticking up for each other. Hard-nosed game. It’ll be exciting. I know everyone’s excited about it. But it’s another hockey game. Personally, I want to have a good year. I want to continue to get better. As a group, we gotta continue to get better. That’s one game. It’ll be a fun one for sure. It’s one game of 82. We don’t want to put much into that and get distracted by a little bit of the smoke. It’ll be good.”
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.