Previewing the Washington Capitals 2021-22 season in the prevailing vocabulary of our time: vibes.
In this edition: Tom Wilson as trending topic. Tom Wilson as a psyop.
Have you ever noticed that whenever someone does something in hockey — anything, really — somehow Tom Wilson‘s name comes up in the conversation? It could be something totally unrelated like one player getting hurt by another player, or a player getting signed by a team to fill a tough-guy role, or even just a player just getting a haircut. And then, out of nowhere, for no apparent reason, we’re talking about Tom Wilson.
That’s because Wilson is a whirlpool of drama. Since that rookie season in which he got in 14 fights, Wilson has been a magnet for gnarly energy and fell vibes. He’s a big, fast, physical player. He could throw the same hit someone else might, but because Tom invests six feet, four inches, and 220 pounds into it at high speed, his hits are more injurious. Wilson tell us often that he knows he needs to pick his spots more carefully, but at this point he’s a recidivist. He’s got a reputation. He’s the usual suspect to the Department of Player Safety.
Let’s go back to May. In a late-season game, Tom Wilson glove-punched Pavel Buchnevich in the shoulder while Buchnevich was face down near the goal line. In the ensuing line brawl, Wilson rag-dolled Artemi Panarin, who had jumped on Wilson’s back. Panarin ended up injured — but not from his encounter with Wilson. Wilson earned a $5K fine for the glove-punch and an over-the-top press statement from the Rangers, but that’s not where the story ended.
The Rangers had a reset in their front office, they let Buchnevich walk, and then they signed Ryan Reaves, who billed himself as a solution to “your Tom Wilson problem.” As baffling as that series of events is, and as nonsensical as that phrase is, it’s not an isolated incident.
Oh my lord pic.twitter.com/C32JfA3fVD
— Fitz (@FitzGSN_) July 20, 2021
Wilson has become a promotional angle for marginal players to get new and better deals. Which is fine for Washington, as those players are rarely as good as Wilson is on the ice. Here’s a RAPM chart from Evolving Hockey. A zero would mean the player has a neutral impact on offense or defense.
Reaves has said it’s a fight on sight with Wilson, because that’s his schtick. It has been since 2018, when he got scratched from game five of the Cup finals and then signed memorabilia mocking Tom Wilson’s concussion.
So what happens tonight? Will Wilson allow a well below average bottom-six player to take an above average top-six player out of a game for five-plus minutes? That wouldn’t be very smart. But whatever happens, Tom Wilson will be the topic of conversation.
So here’s the vibe: Wilsoning is when a hockey team is so tilted by Tom Wilson that they get worse.
Next vibe: The exact same goalie drama
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.