The New York Rangers released a public statement condemning the NHL Department of Player Safety's George Parros, after Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson avoided suspension following a series of unabated, violent acts during Monday's game.
Wilson punched Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich in the back of the head while he was on the ground, and then slammed New York star forward Artemi Panarin head-first into the ice without a helmet. After the game, the Rangers revealed Panarin will miss the duration of the regular season.
Although Wilson has been suspended five times before, he was issued a mere $5,000 fine and no further sanction, prompting widespread outrage and calls for reform to the Department of Player Safety. Hours later, New York released this blistering statement Tuesday afternoon:
"The New York Rangers are extremely disappointed that Capitals forward Tom Wilson was not suspended for his horrifying act of violence last night at Madison Square Garden. Wilson is a repeat offender with a long history of these type of acts and we find it shocking that the NHL and their Department of Player Safety failed to take the appropriate action and suspend him indefinitely. Wilson's dangerous and reckless actions caused an injury to Artemi Panarin that will prevent him from playing again this season. We view this as a dereliction of duty by NHL Head of Player Safety, George Parros, and believe he is unfit to continue in his current role."
Wilson has rarely, if ever, shown contrition for his repeated acts of violence and was recently suspended for seven games in March after delivering an illegal hit on Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo, which left him briefly hospitalized and kept him out of action for three weeks.
Adding insult to injury, the Capitals posted a tweet in support of Wilson's illegal hit, stating that he lives "rent-free" in opponents' and critics' heads. After 29 minutes and facing near-unanimous backlash, Washington's social media team took down the post Monday evening.
Rangers forward Ryan Strome was among the most prominent critics of Parros' decision to let Wilson slide without meaningful sanction.
"I think it's a joke, to be honest with you," Strome said.
Parros joined the NHL Department of Player Safety in 2016 and was quickly promoted to the head of the department in September 2017. Upon taking the position, Parros cited his lengthly track record of avoiding suspensions during his player career, while remaining one of the NHL's most prominent enforcers, as a central reason why he's ideally suited for the job. Despite his credentials, it doesn't appear the former Anaheim Ducks forward has had any success in deterring Wilson's acts of violence, setting a dangerous tone with the playoffs on the horizon.
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