Tom Wilson surprised by reaction to his scrum against Rangers

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Tom Wilson surprised by the reaction to the New York scrum originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Tom Wilson summed up the past week rather succinctly after Friday's morning skate saying, "It's obviously been a crazy couple days."

That may be a tad of an understatement. On Monday against the New York Rangers, Wilson was in a scrum after going after Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich who he thought was too aggressive in the crease against Vitek Vanecek. In the ensuing scrum, Artemi Panarin grabbed Wilson's back and engaged with him, resulting in Wilson throwing him to the ice.

Since then, Wilson was fined $5,000 for his actions against Buchnevich but not Panarin, the Rangers sent out a scathing statement calling for the removal of the head of the Department of Player Safety, fired their president and general manager, were fined $250,000, then the two teams played again on Wednesday in a game that saw six fights, 141 penalty minutes and a cross-check to the face of Anthony Mantha that netted Buchnevich a one-game suspension.

So yeah, "crazy" may be selling in short.

The entire chain of events was sparked by the scrum on Monday which Wilson broke down in great detail.

"Their guy goes to our net and kicks at our goalie and goes in there with his stick," Wilson said. "At a young age in hockey, you're taught to stand up for your goalie so that's what I was doing. From there, you have guys jumping on your back and I think anybody's first reaction would try just to throw them off you and wrestle them down to the ice."

While Wilson may have been fined for his hit on Buchnevich, it was the actions against Panarin that really seemed to draw the ire of New York. When Panarin jumps on Wilson's back, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Wilson responds by grabbing the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Panarin and throwing him down to the ice.

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Wilson said he did not know initially who was on his back.

"I was not really aware at first which guys were on my back," he said. "I knew a guy had me in a chokehold and there was someone on my back."

Wilson is not interested in talking about what he would have or should have done differently based on a frame-by-frame breakdown.

To him, it was a hockey scrum and these things happen.

"It's a lot easier to watch everything in slow motion after the fact and dissect every tenth of a second," Wilson said. "Hockey scrums, anyone that's been in one, they're crazy. There's sticks, there's skates, by the end of the scrum I'm holding my head trying not to get cut by a skate, I'm getting punched in every direction. There's a lot going on so I don't think it's fair to go back and say maybe I would have changed this. It's a hectic moment."

Because he viewed it as just another hockey scrum, the reaction that followed caught Wilson by surprise.

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

In the wake of the scrum, Wilson reached out to Panarin and expressed relief that the star winger seems to be doing OK.

"I'm glad Panarin is doing well," Wilson said. "He's better. I reached out to him and that's really what matters right now."

Wilson would not go into detail about their exchange saying it was personal.

"I think he's a player that's great for the game," Wilson said. "He's a great personality. He's a heck of a player, and I like battling against him. I just wanted to send him a text and check in and I'll leave it at that."

Wilson is no stranger to controversy and is quite used to being the villain among the other 30 (soon to be 31) fan bases in the league. He also knows that nothing he can say will change that perception among fans. But it's important he change how he is perceived by the league in order to avoid scrutiny and any significant suspension in the future.

Following Monday's scrum, Wilson said he did talk to management and head coach Peter Laviolette. While he wished for those conversations to remain private, he did touch on the central point of Laviolette's conversation with him.

"There's guys of all different shapes and sizes that play the game of hockey," Wilson said. "I'm 6-4, 225 and I guess Lavy's point is, 'You have to be aware of that.'"