(NEW YORK) — Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson has been fined $5,000 for punching New York Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich in the back of the head while he was prone on the ice on Monday, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety said Tuesday.
Wilson will not have a hearing over his role in the ensuing scrum between the two teams. During the fight, Wilson was seen throwing Rangers star Artemi Panarin to the ice, as well as throwing additional punches. Panarin did not return for the third period of the game, a 6-3 Capitals win, with the Rangers saying he was injured in the altercation.
The $5,000 fine is the maximum allowable under the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement.
The incident happened during the second period, when Buchnevich fell to the ice while battling for a puck near the Capitals’ crease. Wilson, who had been fighting for the same puck, delivered a punch to the back of Buchnevich’s head.
After Rangers center Ryan Strome pulled Wilson off of his teammate, the larger scrum broke out. At one point, Panarin jumped on Wilson’s back to keep the Capital from punching Strome.
The two were entangled until Wilson eventually peeled off Panarin’s helmet and pushed him to the ice with force.
“I figure you should have more respect for the game and for the players,” the Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad said after the game. “I don’t know why I’m surprised. It’s just horrible.”
It’s not the first run-in Wilson has had with the Department of Player Safety. He was suspended for seven games in March over a hit that injured Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo. That was the fifth suspension of his NHL career.
In its review, the NHL said that Wilson fell on top of Buchnevich in the crease, but not in an egregious way, and that while the punch to Buchnevich’s head was worthy of a fine, it too was not outside the realm of normalcy during a scrum near a net.
As for his aggression towards Panarin, the league said that Wilson didn’t seek out Panarin and that there was not enough evidence that Wilson had pulled Panarin down to the ice by his hair, which many on social media believed to be the case Monday night.
Wilson was given a double-minor penalty and a 10-minute misconduct, but returned to the game and scored the final goal — an empty-netter.
“I thought it was just a scrum,” said Capitals coach Peter Laviolette after the game. “There was something going on originally with the goalie and jamming at the goalie. We had a bunch of players jump in there. It happens a lot.”
But Rangers coach David Quinn disagreed, saying “there are lines that can’t be crossed in this game.”
“You got one of the star players in this league now that could have gotten seriously, seriously hurt in the incident,” Quinn added, referring to Panarin. “It happens time and time again with him. Totally unnecessary.”
Monday’s loss officially eliminated the Rangers from playoff contention. The two teams are scheduled to face off again on Wednesday.
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