NHL-Wilson says surprised by controversy over Panarin incident

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NHL: Washington Capitals at New York Rangers
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson said he had reached out to New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin after injuring him in a Monday-night scuffle that prompted outrage across the National Hockey League (NHL) and was ready to move on from the incident.

Wilson, who has been suspended five times for violent acts, tossed Panarin like a rag doll during Monday's game at Madison Square Garden, prematurely ending the NHL most valuable player candidate's season.

He received a slim $5,000 fine for the incident and was not suspended, angering fans, players and the Rangers front office, who saw the punishment as woefully inadequate.

"I'm glad Panarin is doing well and you know he's better - I reached out to him and that's really what matters now," Wilson told reporters on Friday ahead of the Capitals' home game against the Philadelphia Flyers. "He's a player that's great for the game."

Wilson declined to elaborate on the nature of the text message exchange but did attempt to justify his actions on Monday.

"After the play I would have never thought that all this would have blown up - it seemed fairly routine hockey scrum to me," said Wilson. "That was kind of the feeling from both players in the box. And then obviously it took on a new life after the game."

The Capitals and the Rangers faced off again on Wednesday, immediately throwing down their gloves and throwing punches as the puck dropped.

On Thursday, the league fined the Rangers $250,000 for demeaning a public executive, after they called for the removal of George Parros, the NHL head of player safety in charge of handing out punishments.

"Nothing I say right now is going to change anybody's opinion - they've already made that up and I've just got to keep moving forward," said Wilson.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)