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Kingerski: Enough of Tom Wilson. Kick Him Out.

Throw the book at Tom Wilson. And preferably a heavy one.

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Tom Wilson hits Zach Aston-Reese: Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire

Throw the book at Tom Wilson. And preferably a heavy one.

In days before we knew the long-term effects of concussions and repeated hits to the head, it was a highlight reel hit to catch a defenseless player and “clean his clock,” “ring his bell,” “put him on dream street,” or simply to knock him out. Things have supposedly changed, yet in successive games Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson has delivered a shoulder to an opponent’s jaw.

Wilson’s shot to Zach Aston-Reese in Game 3 was predatory. This was no accident. There was no late movement or unavoidable circumstances. Wilson chose his target and delivered.

The NHL doesn’t need Tom Wilson or his kind anymore. It’s time to suspend him for more than one game. How about 21 games, just like former Arizona Coyotes forward Raffi Torres whose string of playoff headshots knocked Marian Hossa out for the entire 2011-12 postseason. Torres also couldn’t control himself and was a danger to others.

The NHL took it easy on Torres with 21 games. Not long after, Torres was suspended for 41 games because he didn’t learn his lesson.

Eventually, the league essentially played the Wild West sheriff and rode outlaw players into the sunset, like Matt Cooke and Torres. Now, it’s time to give the same expulsion treatment to Wilson, who was suspended for the first four games this season for a preseason hit to the head of St. Louis Blues rookie Sammy Blais.

And yes, this writer was the resident Pittsburgh champion for Ryan Reaves. This writer is the biggest advocate for old time, grinding, sandpaper third line hockey players who play legally and sometimes extra-legal.

There is honor in those professions. There is no honor in what we witnessed in Game 3.

Sure, you may have been in a car accident. You probably hit the brakes before colliding with the other vehicle. You probably did not hit the accelerator when you realized an accident might occur.

Funny thing, in the eyes of the NHL Department of Player Safety, Wilson was not penalized in Game 2 for hitting Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin in the head because the NHL felt it was unavoidable. Essentially, they rewarded the Capitals cheap-shot artist for hitting the accelerator.

Emboldened by getting away with the first one, in the second period of Game 3 Wilson went full predator on Penguins rookie forward Zach Aston-Reese. Aston-Reese saw Wilson coming like a freight train. His head didn’t move. In turn, Wilson saw Aston-Reese and lined him up. Wilson nailed Aston-Reese at full speed. Shoulder to the jaw.

Aston-Reese showed some snarl in the first period and challenged Capitals defenseman Dmitri Orlov, twice. So, Wilson came for the Penguins 23-year-old rookie.

Another head shot at full speed. This time there was no doubt about Wilson’s intention. He came for Aston-Reese’s health. And he got it.

One replay confirmed the other. If you’re willing to see it, anyway. Wilson’s and Aston-Reese’s crests were together. Wilson’s shoulder went straight to ZAR’s head. This time, the NHL won’t need to blow it up to a micro-zoom and ignore it anyway. The evidence is there for all to see.

The worst part was Wilson’s laughter. He didn’t even have the honor to answer for his crimes. He chickened out and laughed.

“That’s disrespectful,” Justin Schultz said.

Mike Sullivan offered a backhanded dismissal, in an uncharacteristic purge of details.

“We have to stay focused. We lose a guy to a broken jaw. It’s going to require surgery. And (he has) a concussion because of another high hit to the head. So, at some point, we would hope that the league might do something,” Sullivan said.

We used to call players like Wilson, “Rats.” And that’s the kind term suitable for print in a professional publication.

And the league should do something: Kick Wilson out for a long time. Goodbye. Good riddance.

Wilson’s laughter was fitting, in a way. There would be some respect for answering the bell, but in keeping with entirely unrespectable play, Wilson hid. And mocked his fallen opponent.

For good measure, Wilson tripped Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta which sprung the Capitals on a two on one for the game-winning goal. What the heck, right? If you can bludgeon a player and laugh without consequence, what’s a trip?

The Penguins-Capitals were engaged in fun, firewagon type hockey with high risks and high rewards. It was exciting hockey with plenty of hitting. Clean hits. It was everything which attracts fans to the world’s best game.

And then Wilson showed up. And it became the world’s worst game.

Enough. Head of Player Safety George Parros was in attendance. Parros was the type of a player who would have taken care of a player like Wilson. Here’s hoping he finally does the same as an executive.

If he doesn’t, the frontier justice could lead to an injury even worse than a concussion and broken jaw.

The NHL has a chance to protect its players before anyone else gets seriously injured. Perhaps they’ll take it. And hockey lovers will get the last laugh.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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il'ja
il'ja
3 years ago

Does it help or hurt the odds of the League taking appropriate action if Mario says something publicly? I don’t know, but I’d think any kind of critique from Mario would carry some pretty serious weight. His leverage? A lawsuit that claims league policy that not only compromises player safety, but organizational fiscal stability (after all there is lost contract time and potential losses of playoff revenues at stake), and which indirectly penalizes teams that don’t make thuggery part of their organizational ethos. Giroux, Wilson, whoever can feel comfortable leaving their feet to make a head hit because the Penguins,… Read more »

il'ja
il'ja
3 years ago

Forgot to add this: excellent article. Nail on the head, so to speak.

Michael Doherty
Michael Doherty
3 years ago

I agree with the writer 100%. If the NHL cares at all about player safety ( and I don’t think they really do) they could prove it by long suspensions for hits to the head. Kevin Weeks suggested it last night, and said it was the only way to stop such dangerous play… And with replays now from every angle, its easy to figure out which checks go too high. Wilson is a dirty player who deserves to be suspended.

Slap Shot
Slap Shot
3 years ago

Want some cheese with that whine?????

John
John
3 years ago

Excellent article. Like the term “Dream Street.” Haven’t heard it in a while. Wilson is Red uniform garbage. Hope ZAR sues the NHL or Lemieux can file in his behalf. The NHL knows about Wilson’s illegal hits and allowed him on the ice to fracture ZAR’s jaw. Maybe, ZAR can wear that Tocchet space helmet when he broke his jaw. But ZAR has a concussion too. It’s a shame because Tom Wilson has ruined some good hockey games back and forth. PENS have captured 9 straight Series and usually answer the bell when backs against the wall. Coach Trotz needs… Read more »

Chris
Chris
3 years ago

I send a Tom Wilson laugh to your ridiculous article. Zach saw it coming and made a bad decision to engage Wilson, he lost.

Tom Wilson
Tom Wilson
3 years ago

It was a clean hit, you cry-baby homer.

Jason Connor
Jason Connor
3 years ago

Looks like the fix is in…the NHL wants the Washington Capitals to win and they are willing to sacrifice player safety toward that end. All the ridiculous calls in the CAPS favor, disallowing a Penguins goal that was clearly in, allowing goaltender interference against Murray, allowing a trip on Maata that resulted in the game winning goal…the ridiculous NBC announcer… Mulberry…who said there is no evidence that Wilson put his shoulder to Reese’s head in spite of Reese’s broken jaw. Somebody is getting money for this, and my bet is that would be some NHL Big Wig. Deplorable!

Robert
Robert
3 years ago

Good article. Not only should he be tossed for the remainder of the playoffs, the league needs to do something about its unprofessional and incompetent officiating. It’s laughably bad and embarrassing. This should have been an OT game – good for all involved from a business standpoint – and instead was ended b/c of a blatant trip that went uncalled…except for the TV announcers, who seemed to expect a penalty would be called. Right now, like it or not, the officials are the sole reason the Pens are down 2-1. They’ve directly accounted for +3 goals for the Capitals in… Read more »

tony clifton
tony clifton
3 years ago

i dont think Wilson left the bench when Ryan Reeves was in DC for the first game this season
.. what a bitch

paul
paul
3 years ago

kingerski, you tool. look at it again. and again. aston reese lined up for it. he was gunning to hit wilson, take him on. and LOST. boom. down you go. sorry mate. if you didn’t want the hit, turn away towards the boards, duck down. hide. get out of the way. if you are going to take on the challenge, you need to expect you may lose. this wasn’t a blind side, from behind cross check or boarding. no PEN was called at the game. Remember this statement: “They all got together and they said, ‘You know what, we’ve got… Read more »

Jon
Jon
3 years ago
Reply to  paul

Aston-Reese was playing the puck when Wilson lined him up and started skating faster. NBCSN crew said they were eye-to-eye. Wilson has 4 inches on Aston-Reese. If they’re looking eye to eye, Wilson is crouching. The only direction for the impact to go is up. Shoulder-to-shoulder at first, maybe, but he pushed/jumped up, knowing full well that he’d pop him in the chin. That’s not a clean hit.

Caps Fan
Caps Fan
3 years ago

Wilson is playing a fast, physical and effective game against the Penguins, and he’s giving them all sorts of problems. They don’t have an answer for him. Keep it up Tom!! Ater watching four different angles of the hit in slow-mo it’s my opinion that Wilson’s shoulder first struck Aston-Reese’s shoulder, before the forward momentum and impact force of the hit drove Wilson’s shoulder up into Aston-Reese’s jaw. Sullivan and Cindy can keep complaining and the CAPS will keep winning.

Derek Gifford
Derek Gifford
3 years ago

I agree with Caps fan. When you watch the video Tom Wilson’s skates are on the ice and he turned and lowered his shoulder at the point of impact. He didn’t leave his skates until after the hit which was a result of the collision. This article is fanboyish at best.

Hudsonbayrules
Hudsonbayrules
3 years ago

It’s time to bring up Sestito

Brendan
Brendan
3 years ago

Aston-Reese serves up his face 4 1/2 feet off the ice by hunching down. Where exactly should Wilson have hit him? Wilson is heading on a line strait to the bench, Aston-Reese makes a last second sharp turn up ice and the two come together hard. Wilson has every right to hit him in that scenario. If Wilson gets lower, he hits him in the face with his helmet or he gets hit in the face himself. If he stands up, he ends up getting hit low. Anytime you are about to collide with someone like that your natural instinct… Read more »

Dave Fello
Dave Fello
3 years ago

Wilson has always been involved in border line hits his whole career. That’s the sign of a dirty player. End of discussion. Mario called the NHL a garbage league years ago. It still is. The league has held a grudge against the Pens for years because of Mario’s comment. The old school guys don’t like teams that win with skill and finesse. The Pens are the best show on ice and have been for nearly 30 years.

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