As much as Tom Wilson has continued to out himself as a disgrace to the NHL, so too has his head coach.
Wilson, a player with a supremely checkered history (despite some media members writing redemption “he’s a changed man” PR pieces until they’re blue in the face) has now made two ridiculous decisions in this truncated season.
Of course, he was suspended seven games back in March for lining up Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo and hitting his head into the boards. And on Monday, he punched New York Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich — who was laying down and not facing Wilson — before bodyslamming a helmetless Artemi Panarin to the ice.
David Quinn and the Rangers were rightfully irate, but the head coach did say Panarin was fine. Still though, the star winger is expected to miss the rest of the season.
Then, like the nimrod he is, Wilson did some weird flexing thing in the penalty box, and the Caps’ social media team got a real kick out of the incident until turtling and deleting a boneheaded tweet.
Got all of that?
Of course, as we learned with the Carlo situation, Wilson’s head coach, Peter Laviolette, is averse to leaving the door open for the possibility that Wilson shouldn’t have done what he did.
Instead, he had this take.
“I thought it was just a scrum. Physical play,” Laviolette said, via ESPN. “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.”
We wrote back in March about the Carlo hit that Laviolette was doing nothing but enabling Wilson by acting like the stuff his winger does “happens a lot.”
This does not happen a lot around the NHL. It happens almost exclusively to the Capitals, and it’s because Laviolette turns a blind eye to Wilson engaging in behavior that one day will end someone’s career. It could’ve been Panarin’s on Monday night.
We’re not saying Laviolette shouldn’t defend his player. But too often, Wilson crosses the line and Laviolette — who only has been coaching Washington for Wilson’s two latest transgressions — acts like it’s nothing. Asking him to outright condemn Wilson not only is borderline unreasonable, but also obviously never going to happen.
But, Peter, buddy, you can say “I would’ve preferred if he didn’t do that.”
Instead, he’s going down on the ship with Wilson, which is an incomprehensibly stupid thing to do.