A melee on the ice Monday led to more upheaval off it Tuesday as the Rangers called for the dismissal of the N.H.L.’s director of player safety in a scathing statement.
During a goal-mouth skirmish in the second period Monday, Washington wing Tom Wilson punched two Rangers forwards, Pavel Buchnevich and Artemi Panarin. Wilson first hit Buchnevich, and then Panarin tried to pull Wilson off Ryan Strome, another Ranger who had intervened. Wilson removed Panarin’s helmet and slammed him to the ice, then knocked him down a second time.
The league on Tuesday fined Wilson $5,000, the maximum allowable amount, but no suspension or additional discipline was handed out by the Department of Player Safety, which is overseen by George Parros, a former N.H.L. player who was known as a fighter.
“We view this as a dereliction of duty by N.H.L. Head of Player Safety, George Parros, and believe he is unfit to continue in his current role,” the Rangers said in a statement Tuesday, adding they were disappointed that Wilson had not been suspended “for his horrifying act of violence last night at Madison Square Garden.”
Panarin did not finish Monday’s game and will miss the remainder of the season with what the team described as a lower-body injury. He and Buchnevich each received minor penalties, while Wilson received two minors and a 10-minute misconduct penalty. He was not ejected from the game, a 6-3 win for Washington. The two teams will play again Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Wilson, 27, has been suspended five times in his career for a total of 30 games, including a 14-game ban in 2018 for a check to the head of St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist. In March, Wilson was suspended for seven games for a hit that left Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo with a concussion. Wilson has also been fined three times, including on Tuesday.
Rangers Coach David Quinn said Wilson had crossed a line during the incident on Monday and showed a lack of respect for the sport.
Though Quinn focused more on the aggression toward Panarin, the league actually fined Wilson for his actions against Buchnevich. Capitals Coach Peter Laviolette defended Wilson’s conduct after the game.
“I thought it was just a scrum, physical play,” Laviolette said. “There was something going on originally with the goalie and jamming at the goalie. We had a bunch of players jump in there.”
But many observers disagreed with Laviolette and the league’s conclusion.
Rarely has a play incited stronger reactions across Twitter and other media platforms, beginning with the Rangers broadcaster Sam Rosen, who during the game called Wilson’s actions “ridiculous.”
There are four games remaining in the regular season for Washington, which currently is second in the East Division.