In last year’s opening-round playoff loss, the Islanders were none too happy with Caps forward Tom Wilson — Wilson was a physical presence all series long and ended Lubomir Visnovsky’s season with a big hit, prompting Kyle Okposo to call Wilson an “idiot.”
On Monday night, the Isles tried for their pound of flesh in an exhibition tilt against Washington.
To no avail.
“[Wilson] kept turning me down [to fight],” veteran tough guy Eric Boulton told Newsday. “He wasn’t interested. He was scared to death.”
Both Boulton and defenseman Scott Mayfield tried to goad Wilson into a scrap, but the third-year forward turned them down. Why? Well, aside from the risk of injuring himself in a preseason fight, Wilson was under the assumption last year’s playoff series was water under the bridge.
“I thought maybe the change of scenery, everybody would have forgot about last year, but obviously, there was a little bit of hard feelings carried over,” Wilson told the Washington Post, alluding to the fact Visnovsky doesn’t play for the Isles anymore. “I made a little bit of a big hit on the first shift and kind of woke up the bear. [Boulton’s] done that his whole career.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Boulton. He’s 39 years old and he’s still playing tough, still in the league, so I understand what his job is. I understand what he’s trying to do. I just tried to kind of play hockey.”
While Wilson tried to downplay the situation, it’s clear the Isles are still upset — much like they were in the days following the Visnovsky hit. Captain John Tavares and defenseman Thomas Hickey both expressed their anger and, later in the series, Anders Lee dropped the mitts with Wilson.
Some figured that was sufficient revenge.
The Isles are not some of those people.
These two teams next meet on Jan. 7, if you want to start circling dates on your calendar.