Wilson says ‘I’ve never been a dirty hitter’ after teams voice complaints

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Tom Wilson knows the reputation he’s developed around the NHL.

But he says it’s not accurate.

“I know that in my career I’ve never been a dirty hitter,” Wilson told the Washington Post, in response to a Sportsnet report that teams have complained to the league about his hits. “I’ve always tried to be an honest hitter. I’ve tried to hit clean. I have pride in my physical game. I don’t hit to hurt people.”

Some disagree with that last remark.

Wilson, 21, has a checkered history over his brief NHL career. He avoided suspension for a hit on Brayden Schenn in 2013 and, last playoffs, ended Isles d-man Lubomir Visnovsky’s season with a thunderous check.

The Islanders were livid with Wilson. Kyle Okposo called him an “idiot” while Thomas Hickey said he “went in to hurt our guy.”

Per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, GMs have voiced concerns about Wilson and want the league to intervene, like they did with Zac Rinaldo after he hit Sean Couturier.

But maybe the meeting won’t be necessary.

Through rumblings and now the Friedman report, Wilson admits he’s heard. He’s well aware of the reputation he’s built and, while he says it’s not accurate, he admits it affects how he plays the game.

“I hear about that stuff,” he said. “It’s tough to kind of go out there and play the fastest game on earth with that in the back of your head.”