There’s a narrative this offseason that Tom Wilson broke the Rangers. His thuggery of sucker-punching Pavel Buchnevich and then rag dolling Artemi Panarin started a domino effect.
From the statement calling for NHL Head of Player Safety to step down, to the trade and extension of Ryan Reaves, people are laughing.
I’m here to tell you they shouldn’t.
Tom Wilson incident woke up the Rangers
Let’s get real about what happened in the second period of that infamous game at Madison Square Garden. A bar fight broke out in the middle of an NHL scuffle. It was started by the head goon of the league, right-wing Tom Wilson.
It all began when the Blueshirts, on a power-play, crashed the Caps net. Pavel Buchnevich was in the middle of the action, face-down on the ice when Wilson blatantly punched Buchnevich in the back of the head.
The Blueshirts rallied as best they could to defend their player led by Artemi Panarin. The video clearly shows Wilson punching Panarin and dislodging his helmet to the ice. The next move shows how classless Wilson is when he pulled the hair of Panarin and slammed him to the ice. Yet the goon was not done. While Panarin tried to get up he slammed him back down to the ice, causing a cut over his eye.
Wilson received a double minor and a ten-minute misconduct. Panarin did not play another shift in the second period and didn’t return to the bench for the third. He only received 14 MINUTES in penalties. Four officials on the ice and none thought an intent to injure was warranted here?
The ultimate insult came when the NHL DOPS slapped only a $5,000 fine to Wilson for the sucker-punch. What he did to Panarin was basically ok by them.
Credit to Tom Wilson, because he set into motion not only a change in management, but also an emphasis on balancing the roster.
Rangers expedite retool and beef up for playoff hockey
There was certainly more than the Tom Wilson incident as to why John Davidson and Jeff Gorton were let go. Same with David Quinn. In there are place are hard-nosed players turned executive and coach in Chris Drury and Gerard Gallant.
The bottom six retool started with getting 2X Cup Champion Barclay Goodrow. Adding more size in Sammy Blais and Jarred Tinordi. Then acquiring Ryan Reaves, a player the Rangers wanted for years. The man nicknamed Reav-o once said, “I’m the solution to your Tom Wilson problem,” is now on Broadway.
If Tom Wilson thought everything was settled for rag dolling Artemi Panarin and then calling to apologize, he was wrong. The Rangers sent a clear message that they won’t be letting bygones be bygones to him and everyone else.
Payback is coming
Ryan Reaves was on John Scott’s podcast and gave his thoughts after watching Tom Wilson run wild on the Rangers. “I was texting with (Jonathan) Marchessault who sent me the clip, I couldn’t tell if he was going to get 50 games or nothing,” he said. “When you see it, that’s a scrum – he took it too far. But again, there’s another one of those scenarios where he knows he can do that and there’s going to be no repercussions.”
The 6-2, 225 lbs enforcer that made this prophetic observation is now a member of the team. “If New York had anyone in their system they would’ve called them up and their would’ve been repercussions. There were a ton of fights and that was great on their team but I don’t think Tom Wilson was scared to go into the next game.”
When Scott asked him if Wilson would’ve done that if he were on the bench, Reaves flat out said no and gave his reasons why.
“If that happens and he doesn’t get kicked out of that game I can promise you we’re fighting three times,” he replied. “And if he does get kicked out, I promise you we’re fighting three times or I’m jumping you. Take your pick – defense yourself or let’s just get it over with.”
Thank you Tom Wilson
So we will let the narrative that Tom Wilson broke the Rangers continue.
But when the dust settles and this Rangers team is playing tougher and more competitive hockey deep into the playoffs, we know who to thank.