NHL fines Rangers $250,000 for statement on Tom Wilson, NHL Player Safety

Rangers Buchnevich Tom Wilson
The Rangers were fined after speaking out against Tom Wilson (left) and the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
Bruce Bennett/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL announced on Thursday that it has fined the New York Rangers $250,000 for their public comments made in the aftermath of a Monday-night melee sparked by Washington Capitals agitator, Tom Wilson. 

“Public comments of the nature issued by the Rangers that were personal in nature and demeaning of a league executive will not be tolerated,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “While we don’t expect our clubs to agree with every decision rendered by the Department of Player Safety, the extent to which the Rangers expressed their disagreement was unacceptable. It is terribly unfair to question George Parros’ professionalism and dedication to his role and the Department of Player Safety.”

The Rangers’ strongly-worded statement came after a 6-3 Capitals win that saw Wilson punch New York forward Pavel Buchnevich in the back of the head while he laid stomach-down on the ice before ripping the helmet off star winger Artemi Panarin and slamming him down to the playing surface. The latter act was especially dangerous considering the force he sent Panarin down to the ice in which a very serious injury could have occurred. 

Wilson, a repeat offender who has already been suspended five times by the league, including seven games this season, was only fined $5,000 and only for the punch on Buchnevich — not for his actions against Panarin — without a suspension. 

To put the lack of punishment set forth by Parros and the Department of Player Safety into perspective, New York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal was illegally hooked by Carl Hagelin of the very same Capitals and fell down during a game last week. He was fined $2,000 for embellishment. 

“The New York Rangers are extremely disappointed that Capitals forward Tom Wilson was not suspended for his horrifying act of violence last night at Madison Square Garden,” the Rangers’ statement read. “Wilson is a repeat offender with a long history of these types of acts and we find it shocking that the NHL and their Department of Player Safety failed to take the appropriate action and suspend him indefinitely.

“Wilson’s dangerous and reckless actions caused an injury to Artemi Panarin that will prevent him from playing again this season. We view this as a dereliction of duty by NHL Head of Player Safety, George Parros, and believe he is unfit to continue in his current role.”

The Rangers’ fine for these comments was 50-times greater than Wilson’s fine — once again suggesting that the NHL cares more about its image than the actual safety of their players. 

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