Not only did a Tom Wilson-inspired line brawl on May 3 between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers infuriate the Rags and their fans, but weeks later, it altered the entire direction of the Rangers’ franchise. The Rangers cleaned house in management and brought in three tough guys over the offseason, including Ryan Reaves. It’s an open question if the moves will make the Rangers a better team next season, but one thing is for certain, Tom Wilson appeared to inspire that change.
Wednesday, former Capitals enforcer and current NBC Sports Washington analyst, Alan May, commented on the Rangers and Wilson drama during an appearance on The Rod Pedersen Show.
May brought both analysis and jokes to the interview.
“I thought it was illegal to have a player on another team own another franchise but apparently Tom Wilson owns the New York Rangers,” May chirped. “He got everyone fired last year, the coach, the general manager, and the president all fired.”
May continued, “Now they bring in Ryan Reaves. They are acting like Ryan’s the second coming of Bob Probert and Dave Brown. In my opinion, Evander Kane nailed it right. If you’re going to let Ryan Reaves be a factor in a hockey game, I think the other team is going to get the victory all the time. He’s well-liked in Canada, he’s Scott Oake’s favorite guy to interview, and on the HNIC broadcasts, he’s the focal point. He’s the superstar of the broadcast. I think he’s a good player, I think he’s legitimately tough, but I think there’s been too much put into this.”
Meanwhile, Pedersen, a Canadian Hall of Fame broadcaster, said that from his perch, it seemed like Wilson was a “meathead.” He asked May if there was more to the enforcer than the suspensions and the controversial big hits. A summer poll found Wilson to be the most hated player in hockey.
“Tom Wilson can skate just as fast as anyone in the National Hockey League. He can put the puck in net. He’s a wrecking crew with the big hits,” May replied. “Tom Wilson, people hate him, but I’ll tell you what, every single team in the National Hockey League, you name it, the Toronto Maple Leafs would love to have this guy. He’d answer a lot of their problems. A lot of the top teams. He was a Stanley Cup champ. He was phenomenal in those playoffs. He can kill penalties. He can play different roles on the power play. How many players that have played his aggressive style have been able to put up 20-plus goals in a season in the NHL? Not very many. He goes out there, he brings it every game.”
The Rangers will not have to wait long to see how they measure up to the Capitals. The two teams play on Opening Night to kick off each other’s season. Both teams are part of a very competitive Metropolitan Division, arguably the best in hockey. Many have talked up the Rangers moves, but May believes they will not live up to the hype.
“I think a lot of people have the New York Rangers too inflated on where they are going to be in the standings,” May said. “When I look at the rosters, I’m going ‘how many guys should be in the lineup on a certain night.’ Not to say that every player in the lineup is not an NHL player, but some players, you can’t have them all in the lineup at the same time. I’ll use the Edmonton Oilers as an example. For too many years, they had too many guys that should have been the 12th forward, but they were going seven down to 12 in the lineup but they had all those guys that were 11, 12 types of forwards and fifth and sixth defensemen in the lineup. I look at the Rangers, there are not a lot of proven players there yet. They signed some players and they make it sound like the greatest goal scorers and team players ever. But I think they’re somewhat overinflated.”
May thought the New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, and Philadelphia Flyers (he really liked their offseason moves) would be the top three seeds in the Metro, while the Capitals and Penguins would battle it out for the final spot.
“I think Washington’s starting the season probably without Nicklas Backstrom who I assume is going on LTIR until his hip is 100 percent. And Pittsburgh you have Malkin and Crosby (hurt). I look at their roster and I don’t see enough depth with the other players there to carry them through the start of the season. Washington wants to get out to a good start and hopefully, Pittsburgh is getting pummeled the first 10 games of the season.”
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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