Tom Wilson, Jeff Gorton and a Wild Week at the Garden


Wilson (above) caused chaos both in the Rangers’ front office and across the entire NHL. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Tom Wilson, Jeff Gorton and a Wild Week at the Garden

Chris Hennessy


The past few days have been a whirlwind at the world’s most famous arena, beginning on Monday when the Rangers lost to the Washington Capitals, 4-2. With this loss, the Blueshirts were officially eliminated from the playoffs, although in practice, they were out of contention after getting swept by the Islanders the week prior. Although it is always disappointing to miss the playoffs, the Rangers are on a great path. Manyrecognize the great job General Manager Jeff Gorton and President John Davidson have done. And then they got fired. 

Monday saw Tom Wilson go rogue during a net front scramble and enter himself into the age-old hockey discourse of the place violence has in the game. The noted enforcer crosschecked Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich while he was face down on the ice as Washington goalie Vitek Vanecek covered the puck. Artemi Panarin came in to rip Wilson off his teammate, and they engaged in a tussle. Panarin was then tossed to the ice by his hair, and fans across the country erupted. 

Wilson has a reputation, and many fans dislike him, whether or not one of his five suspendable actions happened to their favorite team. People were calling for his suspension through the end of this year’s playoffs, while others did not think he deserved punishment. In the end, George Parros and the Department of Player Safety agreed with the latter, fining Wilson $5,000, the maximum allowable under the CBA. 

The NHL decided not to suspend Wilson for Wednesday’s game between the two teams, forcing the Rangers to handle the situation themselves, which is exactly what the league does not want. 

Flashback to February of 2011: The Islanders were terrible, and the Penguins were not. A chippy game between the two teams ended with a goalie fight between Rick DiPietro and Brent Johnston. The Islanders were upset with the lack of punishment to Maxime Talbot for concussing Blake Comeau and other incidents. General Manager Garth Snow pulled up the likes of Michael Haley and Trevor Gillies to get rough and tumble with the Penguins in an act of revenge. The game ended with an NHL record 346 penalty minutes, three suspensions and multiple fines. Ten years later, no one seems to have learned their lesson.

Yes, Parros was not in charge at that point, but what good is history if we do not learn from it? The NHL very easily could have prevented an embarrassing first period in Wednesday’s game by suspending Wilson for just one game, but they did not. There were 100 penalty minutes in the first 20 minutes and six fights commenced with the opening puck drop. The Capitals won 4-2, not that anyone really cared about that. 

Just hours before Wednesday’s game began, the Rangers fired Gorton and Davidson. Owner James Dolan said that the firings were not related to a controversial statement released by the organization on Tuesday evening but to underperformance this season. 

The decision had the hockey community scratching their heads and immediately connecting the dots between the statement and the firings. There were reports saying that Gorton and Davidson were making calls around the league trying to distance themselves from the statement. 

Regardless of why they were fired, former captain, Chris Drury, takes over both positions with the mentorship of former GM Glenn Sather. Now, the rebuild continues with playoff expectations in Artemi Panarin’s third season in New York.