The NHL took a shot, and missed

Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take.” Well, the NHL took their shot in the Tom Wilson situation, and they absolutely missed.

This stems back to Monday night’s game between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers. A scrum came about in front of the Capitals net, and Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich fell to the ground as a result. While he was on the ground, Wilson, a forward for the Capitals, began to punch Buchnevich in the head. Rangers forward Artemi Panarin saw Buchnevich being punched by Wilson, and went after Wilson. Wilson then preceded to lay down a very dangerous body slam on Panarin, which sparked a lot of outrage in the hockey community.

The NHL, in realizing that they had a golden ratings opportunity at hand when the two teams were set to face off again two days later, elected to only levy a $5,000 fine on Wilson for his egregious antics. Despite taking actions that severely endangered the health and safety of two players, Wilson was left without a suspension.

This incensed many in the hockey community, and the Rangers took a direct shot at the league office in a press release

With the league refusing to take accountability, the Rangers responded in a traditional hockey way on Wednesday night.


In total, in the first period of the game, there were six fights and over 100 penalty minutes doled out between the two teams.

All of this action came following a hectic day of organizational realignment for the Rangers, where they saw owner Jim Dolan fire Team President John Davidson and General Manager Jeff Gorton.

The final piece to fall came on Thursday, when the NHL dropped a $250,000 fine for the statement that the Rangers released regarding the league.

At the end of the day, this was a reactionary fine from the NHL to cover their bases for ignoring a massive issue for the sake of ratings. It was an irresponsible decision for them to put the twelve players that got into altercations on Wednesday into danger just so they could score some blood-thirsty eyes on a weeknight.

The NHL is the fourth-most popular sport of the big four in the United States, but has the opportunity to grow more thanks to some recent rights deals that will put their content on ESPN and Turner Sports. That is evidence alone that viewership in hockey is growing and will continue to grow, making the decision to let Wilson play for the sake of ratings that much more irresponsible.

To make matters worse, the altercations during the game overshadowed a more important story that was taking place. Capitals forward and Team USA hero T.J Oshie was playing with a heavy heart Wednesday night, as he lost his father the previous day. Oshie responded poetically, netting a hattrick in honor of his father.

This event should be seen as a wakeup call to the NHL. With more eyes on the league, they need to be better when punishing repeat offenders when it comes to violence on the ice, and put the health and safety of the players above the health and safety of the ratings.