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The NHL vs Player Safety and Common Sense

The NHL embarrasses itself again in response to the Tom Wilson/Rangers fiasco, proving it has no idea what it’s doing regarding player safety.

8414859307 by El Fafa is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The NHL vs Player Safety and Common Sense


Estimated Reading Time: 4 Minutes

I guess it’s been a while since the discussion centered on what a clown NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is, and what a three ring circus the NHL Department of Player Safety is. So let’s have at it, shall we?

What kept the hockey world abuzz this week? Let’s see, as always it was two-bit hack goon Tom Wilson getting his hundredth slap on the wrist from the NHL Department of Player Safety for yet another offense.

This time New York Rangers star Artemi Panarin had his number called in the latest round of Tom Wilson roulette. Wilson was fined his normal ‘walking around money’ fee of $5,000 for punching Pavel Buchnevich in the head as he lay on the ice just before ragdolling Panarin to the ice, ending the star forward’s season. Meanwhile the Rangers, who openly criticized Head of Player Safety George Parros in a statement, were hit with a $250,000 fine. The whole ordeal proved what a joke the NHL’s Player Safety Department is.

I’m going to say that again for the cheap seats. Repeat offender Tom Wilson ends a guy’s season and walks away with a $5,000 dollar fine. The Rangers call out the lack of response from the DEPARTMENT OF PLAYER SAFETY on the Panarin attack, (which again, ended his season), and receive a $250,000 fine. That is not a good look for the NHL.

And, the outrage is because of the words ‘repeat offender’ that pop up before Tom Wilson in just about every sentence you read about the guy. He’s a goon with a rap sheet a mile long.

Tom Wilson Fines

March 19, 2015 – fined $2,000 for diving/embellishment
April 28, 2016 – fined $2,403.67 for a knee-on-knee hit on now teammate Conor Sheary
May 3, 2021 – Fined $5,000 for roughing on Rangers Pavel Buchnevich (nothing for attempting to drive Panarin’s head into the ice mind you)

Suspensions

Sept. 22, 2017 – suspended 2 preseason games for a late hit
Oct. 1, 2017 – suspended 4 games for boarding Saint Louis’s Samuel Blais
May 1, 2018 – suspended 3 games for an illegal head check that broke Pittsburgh’s Zach Aston-Reese’s jaw
Sept. 30, 2018 – suspended 20 games for an illegal hit to the head on Saint Louis’s Oskar Sundqvist
March 6, 2021 – Suspended 7 games for boarding Boston’s Brandon Carlo

That’s 5 suspensions for you math-whizzes out there. Quite frankly, two is too many! And yes I’m sure someone as reckless as Wilson was aiming all along for Panarin to land on his shoulder when he took him by the hair and threw him to the ice. Ok NHL, sure!

Tom Wilson is a cancer on the NHL. He has proven time and again that, despite some loose attempts at discipline, he is unwilling or unable to change how he plays. Or maybe he just knows each time he injures someone he’s most likely to face just a few games out or, even better, a pocket change fine. With zero motivation to change how he plays the NHL will be lucky if his tenure on the ice ends without a career ended at his hand.

Hey I know, after he retires the NHL can make him head of Player Safety!

Why this all is bad for hockey

Next year the NHL moves from NBC, and one or two national games per week, to ESPN and TNT. More games nationally televised per week, more games available via ESPN+, and the NHL package will be purchasable through the ESPN+ app as well. That’s a lot of money and faith Disney is putting into the NHL. And the NHL doesn’t need their inconsistent officiating and player discipline to be at the center of discussion on all the TV shows and podcasts across the ESPN networks. That’s not good for hockey. The NHL has a player safety problem. They need to find some consistency in dealing with problem children like Tom Wilson, and they need to find it soon.

Christian is husband, father and video editor working in New York City. Originally from the Greater Pittsburgh Area he is a life long fan The Steelers, Penguins and Pirates as well as Professional Wrestling.

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