Ryan Reaves didn’t receive a suspension for his hit on Tom Wilson, but Wilson is sidelined with a concussion nonetheless.
However you feel about the Washington Capitals’ forward and his history of hits, it’s painful to watch the result of Reaves’ hard check. As you can see, Wilson’s helmet came off during the exchange, causing his head to hit the ice without that protection. It’s an unsettling sight, to say the least.
Some onlookers believed that Reaves had been “going after” Wilson for much of the game. It’s unclear if this had anything to do with Wilson’s controversial hit on Vegas Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault during Game 1 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, but either way, Reaves didn’t seem apologetic after Vegas beat Washington 5-3 on Tuesday.
Via Sin Bin Vegas’ video of the scrum after the game, you can see that Reaves mentions that Game 1, and then comments on the hit as: “he was looking at his pass and ran into a lion in the jungle.”
It seems like that comment wasn’t a one-off after a game, either. Russian Machine Never Breaks’ Cara Bahniuk reports that Reaves was autographing photos of the aftermath (Reaves standing next to a fallen Wilson), complete with the “lion in the jungle” quip. The “Inscriptagraphs” page has been removed from the company’s website, but a Twitter user took a screenshot of the signed image.
Reaves was ejected from the game, and that was as far as the discipline went.
It’s currently unclear how much time Wilson will miss with this concussion. The Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan reported that it was a concussion in the first place, noting that the Capitals are only deeming it an “upper-body injury” while labeling Wilson day-to-day. After seeing footage of Wilson’s head hitting the ice and needing help off the ice, it’s pretty tough to imagine that it would be anything less than a concussion.
He’s expected to miss Thursday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes, at minimum.
That Tuesday contest against Vegas broke a blistering eight-game point streak (seven goals, six assists for 13 points) for Wilson, who’s generated 14 points in his 11 games back from a 14-game suspension.
For more background on the Wilson – Reaves beef, check this Sportsnet video:
UPDATE: Reaves apologized for signing the photos, which the team says were destroyed. From the Review-Journal:
“The picture was probably in bad taste,” Reaves said. “I apologize that it even got started.”
“I’ve signed a lot worse, but in this age of social media and concussions, and the fact (Wilson) was hurt, you never want to see that,” Reaves said. “I called the guy (at Inscriptagraphs) right away, and we took care of it before it got out.”
MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.