Tom Wilson ended the New York Rangers’ season in many ways on Monday night. They were eliminated from postseason contention with the loss. Then, there was a statement on Tuesday that let loose on George Parros and the Department Of Player Safety.
Then came Wednesday…
Late in the morning, it was announced that David Quinn’s normal press availability would be shelved at 11:30 am ET. There was a sense that something was up. No one expected what was to come.
The Hammer Fell on John Davidson and Jeff Gorton
At 2:46 pm ET, the hockey world stopped and was floored.
NYR have fired John Davidson and Jeff Gorton
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) May 5, 2021
With that, everything changed. The New York Rangers were not done yet. Now, questions began firing in from every possible angle on social media.
Was it because of this statement?
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) May 4, 2021
Was it because of results? Now, New York had one made the “playoffs” once in the tenure of Jeff Gorton. Technically, last season was not even a playoff berth as it was a spot in the “play-in” round. They were swept by the Carolina Hurricanes in three games and never were close in any of those games.
However, this year, New York was placed in the stacked East Division with four heavyweights in the Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, and New York Islanders. A playoff spot expected to be an uphill battle at best. New York had the odds stacked against them as Artemi Panarin missed time due to a personal issue. Also, Mika Zibanejad suffered from the lingering effects of COVID for most of the first half of the season.
Then, there was the slow start of players and injuries to Igor Shesterkin, Chris Kreider, etc. It had not been the easiest of seasons but New York did turn it around and got within a few points of Boston and the Islanders.
The problem is they ran out of gas. That was not their fault. Then Monday night happened.
What Tom Wilson did to the New York Rangers
It depends on who you believe but what happened on Monday started when Pavel Buchnevich was near Vitek Vanecek. What happened next is up for dispute but Tom Wilson clearly took it as a severe act of aggression. He grabbed Buchnevich and tried to make his head go through the ice at Madison Square Garden. Then Artemi Panarin stood up for his teammate. What happened next was less in dispute. Wilson slammed Panarin onto the ice and caused an injury that will keep the Russian winger out for the rest of the season.
To be fair, the New York season has just three games left anyway. Tom Wilson received 14 minutes worth of penalties for his role but was not given a game misconduct for starters. That made New York irate.
Then, there was Tuesday.
The Capitals’ Tom Wilson was fined $5,000 for roughing a New York Rangers player, the NHL's Department of Player Safety announced. “I thought it was just a scrum, like physical play," head coach Peter Laviolette said https://t.co/SNI8JwG4TR
— NBCWashington (@nbcwashington) May 4, 2021
Now, if that was not enough, then there was a tweet from the Washington Capitals which set the hockey world into even more of a frenzy.
Washington Capitals Twitter guy decided this was a good idea to Tweet after Tom Wilson gave Pavel Buchnevich a pedigree and tried to maim Artemi Panarin with a clothesline/choke slam combo.
It has since been deleted. pic.twitter.com/TfX8Wuf8xM
— Complete Hockey News (@CompleteHkyNews) May 4, 2021
Again, the weird part is that this tweet came out first thing on Tuesday morning. The intent was clear and honestly it was not smart, to say the least. Nor, was it clever in any way. Sometimes just having one’s breakfast and not tweeting is the smartest thing.
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Tom Wilson Was The Catalyst Or Was He?
Now, was Tom Wilson truthfully the catalyst. Did James Dolan and upper management have a plan to rid themselves of Davidson and Gorton anyway? According to Elliotte Friedman, this had been brewing since the weekend and Dolan was waiting for New York to be eliminated officially. It still seems odd that this happened with three games left in the regular season.
Why not let the President and GM at least run the ship until next week? What would have been the harm? It is why that statement likely played some role, even if it was minuscule, in accelerating the departures of Davidson and Gorton.
No matter where the truth lies, the New York Rangers now have Chris Drury serving as President and General Manager currently. What happens to David Quinn? That is unknown. Then, there was the Mark Messier sideshow if that was all not enough.
Again, Messier left when he did not get the job after Alain Vigneault was named coach. That was how long ago? Think about it. It felt like a person more interested in piling logs onto the fire than anything else.
It is abundantly clear that a chain of events that played varying roles led to the departures of New York’s President and General Manager. The complete specifics may never be known but with James Dolan involved, fans and media alike are apprehensive and they have reason to be.
One gets the feeling, this story is far from being over.