The NHL was slammed on Tuesday after announcing that Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson was fined $5,000 for a post-whistle scrum during Monday night’s game against the New York Rangers that saw him punch Pavel Buchnevich in the back of the head.
The NHL Department of Player Safety said that Wilson would be fined the maximum allowed under the Collective Bargaining Agreement for the second-period incident.
He was not disciplined for throwing Rangers star Artemi Panarin to the ground and punching him just moments later. Rangers coach David Quinn announced Tuesday that Panarin would miss the remainder of the season with a lower-body injury.
“To me, anybody in hockey — certainly everybody in our organization — is very disappointed,” Quinn said. “We certainly thought it warranted a suspension. We’re just really disappointed. A line was crossed: Guy didn’t have his helmet on, vulnerable, he got hurt. To me, it was an awful lot there to suspend him.”
Forward Ryan Strome called the discipline ruling “unfortunate.”
“As players, you want the league to have your back in those situations,” the Ranger said. “And a lot of guys in our dressing room feel like they didn’t.”
Wilson was given a double-minor penalty for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct. The fine represents 0.12% of Wilson’s $4.1 million salary for this season.
“It’s the discipline that’s sent down from the league, and Tom will pay it and we’ll move on,” said Capitals coach Peter Laviolette, who after the game called it a physical play that “happens a lot.”
The Capitals were also slammed on social media after posting a since-deleted tweet after the fight seemingly praising Wilson’s violent tendencies.
This is Wilson’s third fine in eight NHL seasons, and he has been suspended five times. The most recent suspension was seven games in March for boarding Boston’s Brandon Carlo.
Hockey fans mocked the NHL for its apparent leniency regarding Wilson’s behavior on the ice.
Tensions will be high as the two teams face off again on Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.