Reaves: Autographed photos of Wilson injury destroyed

40 Comments

However you feel about Ryan Reaveshit on Tom Wilson, the fallout hasn’t been pretty.

Reaves was ejected from the Vegas Golden Knights’ 5-3 win against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, and that ended up being the extent of discipline, as he was not suspended. Wilson needed to be helped off of the ice following that check; it was an ugly sight, as Wilson’s helmet came off during the fall, leaving him without protection when his head hit the ice.

In the locker room after the win, Reaves addressed the hit as such: “[H]e was looking at his pass and ran into a lion in the jungle.”

It’s bad enough to say that in the locker room after the game, when emotions can still be high, and before it was essentially confirmed that Wilson suffered a concussion.

The ill-advised decisions didn’t stop there, however, as Russian Machine Never Breaks’ Ian Oland reported that Reaves autographed photos of the aftermath of the hit for a company named “Inscriptagraphs.”

The Washington Post’s Scott Allen tracked down some screengrabs of Inscriptagraphs’ Instagram page (say that five times fast), noting that the company described the autographed photo as “the must-have Christmas gift of the year.” Yikes.

Inscriptagraphs

If nothing else, Reaves & Co. realized that it was not wise to go down that road.

As the first sign that cooler heads prevailed, the Inscriptagraphs website took down the listing. Reaves told Jesse Granger of The Athletic that he did indeed sign those photos, but eventually had a change of heart, prompting them to be destroyed. It was noted that the photos were destroyed:

The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Ed Graney had a bit more, including Reaves hinting that it’s not unusual to sign bad things?

“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.”

Vegas Golden Knights PR rep Eric Tosi also told ESPN and the Washington Post that they “were not distributed and they have been destroyed.”

One would think that this will be the end of this sordid saga, beyond Wilson’s recovery process stemming from that concussion, as the two teams won’t meet again during the 2018-19 regular season. With Reaves avoiding supplemental discipline, it’s tough to imagine more coming from this.

Keeping this ugly story in the headlines does bring to mind the NHL’s wider confusion with supplemental discipline, though.

With Matt Dumba avoiding a suspension for a highly questionable hit in Thursday’s Flames – Wild game, it’s sometimes difficult to work out through the league’s muddled messages about what “the line” really is. It’s something Capitals players discussed following that Reaves hit on Wilson Tuesday, as Granger reported (sub required).

“Who knows anymore? I don’t feel like anyone knows what’s going on anymore,” Brett Connolly said. “I don’t know if it was to the head or the top of the shoulder, but it’s still one of those hits they’re trying to get out of the game. They have a tough job, those refs. It’s a quick game. They have a tough job and they’re trying to call it the way they’re being told from people a lot higher than me and you. So we’re just trying to as players figure it out too. It’s tough.”

Connolly hits on a point about hits by Reaves, Dumba, and Wilson too: there are a lot of frame-by-frame breakdowns of checks that blur the line. Was the head the primary point of contact? Did the offending hitter’s skates leave the ice? How late was it?

But are we losing sight of the big picture by diving into the hyper-specific details?

Capitals coach Todd Reirden believed that Reaves was targeting Wilson all game long, and the situation devolved into that hit. As we learn more about the impact concussions have on the lives of athletes (and everyday people), you wonder if the league might need to take less of a laissez-faire attitude when it comes to these “feuds.”

Sure, there’s a “nature of the beast” element to all of this, as hockey’s a violent, physical game. Yet, plenty of these hits can feel predatory in nature. Was an offending hit really a hockey play? Perhaps the Department of Player Safety needs to consider setting new precedents about how they police interference, as just one example of contexts when dangerous hits can happen. The league should at least consider common sense ways to try to cut down on these cloudy, borderline situations.

It’s unclear how long Wilson will be sidelined with this concussion. The winger (who scored 14 points in 11 games in a red-hot run returning from his lengthy suspension) missed Thursday’s Capitals win against the Coyotes, and the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan believes that Wilson will miss Saturday’s action, too.

He’s currently labeled day-to-day, a descriptor that’s even hazier than the league’s stance on borderline hits.

Hopefully NHL players will be more clear-eyed when it comes to how they conduct themselves following controversial hits in the future, though.

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 phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Golden Knights’ Reaves ejected after blindside hit on Capitals’ Wilson

60 Comments

(UPDATE: Reaves will not receive any supplemental discipline from the NHL.)

Yes, you read that right.

Vegas Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves did his best Tom Wilson impression in front of the man himself against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. And the result was much the same.

Reaves drilled Wilson as Wilson was looking the other way following a pass attempt. The hit from Reaves sent Wilson’s helmet flying in the air. Wilson hit the ice hard and appeared to hit his head on the way down.

NBC Sports Washington has the video here:

Reaves was assessed a five-minute major for interference and handed a game misconduct on top of it. He’s also likely going to be hearing from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety over the next couple of days.

Wilson needed to be helped off and was ruled out for the rest of the game with an upper-body injury.

Wilson was involved in a controversial hit last week after he laid a blindside hit of his own on New Jersey Devils forward Brett Seney. Wilson was ejected from the game but was not subject to further discipline.

Wilson has been suspended four times in the past 15 months.

Reaves and Wilson already had a thing going in the game.

In the clip below, Reaves steps into the path of an oncoming Wilson and then proceeds to laugh in his face, this after drilling Wilson seconds earlier.

Wilson took Reaves down in the first period with a big hit of his own.

Still a lot of hate between these two teams and it’s safe to say that Reaves and Wilson haven’t seen the last of each other.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

No hearing for Tom Wilson after another controversial hit (Update)

Getty Images
52 Comments

(UPDATE: There will be no hearing for Wilson, per Bob McKenzie.)

The debate over the next day or so is going to be intense.

Did Washington Capitals forward (and resident bad boy) Tom Wilson deliver another dirty hit on a fellow NHLer? And if so, how does the NHL’s Department of Player Safety navigate that minefield?

Wilson was tossed from Friday’s game against the New Jersey Devils after clipping forward Brett Seney, who had just been stopped on a break and had retrieved the rebound,  dumping the puck back deep into the Capitals’ zone. With Seney’s back turned, Wilson delivered the glancing blow.

To where? That’s what will need to be looked at over the next 24 hours.

Here’s the hit:

Officially, Wilson was given a five-minute major for an illegal check to the head and a game misconduct. There are several angles of the hit that can be seen. Some look like he caught shoulder, others look like the head was the principle point of contact.

If it’s the latter, buckle in.

Wilson was already suspended this season for 20 games (later reduced to 14 through an arbitrator) for drilling St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist with a blindside hit to the head.

PHT’s Adam Gretz put together a quick rundown of Wilson’s recent history prior to his 20 game suspension earlier this season — four suspensions in 105 games.

  • His first suspension came last year in the preseason when he was suspended two preseason games for interference on St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas. While Wilson had carried a reputation for being a physical player that played right on the edge, he had, to that point in his career, only been fined by the NHL so he only missed two preseason games. A very minor and meaningless slap on the wrist.
  • But in his first game back from that two-game suspension, he boarded St. Louis’ Samuel Blias, which resulted in the punishment instantly being cranked up to a four-game regular season ban.
  • After going through the remainder of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs without another play that reached the level of supplemental discipline, he was given a three-game postseason ban (probably comparable to a six-game regular season suspension) for a hit to the head of Zach Aston-Reese, knocking him out of the playoffs.

A couple things of note on the latest hit: the hit was avoidable, which the DoPS pointed out in the video explanation for Wilson’s 20-game suspension, also stating that he took a poor angle of approach, which seems to be the case again. It’s a blindside hit.

You don’t need the reminder, but Wilson is a repeat offender.

“The hitting aspect of the game is definitely changing a little bit, and I’ve got to be smart out there and I’ve got to play within the rules,” Wilson told the Washington Post during his latest suspension. “And at the end of the day, no one wants to be in the situation that I’m in right now. I’ve got to change something because obviously it’s not good to be out and not helping your team.”

Smart has been one of Wilson’s buzz words for a long time.

Everything had been going swimmingly for Wilson since returning from his latest suspension. His sixth goal during a five-game goal-scoring streak came prior to his ejection.

Wilson has seven goals and 13 points in nine games and appeared to be keeping his nose clean.

For what it’s worth, Seney was able to return to the game.

Following the game, Seney told reporters that he wasn’t totally sure where the hit caught him.

Capitals coach Todd Reirden weighed in after the game.

Reirden was incensed on the bench when Wilson got the boot and appears he was still fuming after the game.

Washington plays their next game on Sunday afternoon, so George Parros isn’t taking Saturday off.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Capitals’ Wilson set to appeal 20-game ban, again

Getty Images
19 Comments

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson has adopted this mantra and will now plead his case to an independent arbitrator.

After NHL commissioner Gary Bettman upheld Wilson’s 20-game suspension on Thursday, the latter is expected to “appeal the appeal,” according to Sportsnet’s John Shannon.

Wilson was handed the 20-game ban after an illegal check to the head of St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist during the preseason. The hit was one thing, but the lengthy suspension came on the heels of three separate incidents inside a calendar year for Wilson.

Bettman released his 31-page decision on Thursday, which outlined why he held up Wilson’s suspension, which was handed down by George Parros and the NHL’s player safety department.

Per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, Wilson’s appeal will be heard next Wednesday by Shyam Das. Das was the same arbitrator that reduced Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson‘s suspension stemming from a domestic violence incident over the summer, so It wouldn’t be surprising to see Wilson’s suspension reduced through Das.

Wilson has already served nine of the 20 games (10 by the time the appeal is heard next week). At this point, it would appear this is more about retaining as much salary as he can rather than getting back on the ice.

Wilson is losing over $1.2 million because of the suspension. He signed a six-year, $31 million extension over the summer.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Tom Wilson ejected for high hit; another suspension coming?

41 Comments

Oh boy, here we go again.

Tom Wilson was ejected from Sunday’s game between the Washington Capitals and the St. Louis Blues in the second period for checking to the head.

The victim was Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist.

The principal point of contact appears to be Sundqvist’s head.

And here’s another angle of the hit:

Sundqvist needed help to get off the ice and hasn’t returned to the game. The Blues were leading 1-0 prior to the hit. Washington has since tied the game.

The Capitals should probably just sit Wilson any time they’re playing the Blues in the preseason.

Wilson was suspended not once, but twice last year in the preseason for two separate hits on Blues’ players. He received a two-game ban for a late hit on Robert Thomas and then was suspended for the first four games of the regular season after boarding Sammy Blais in Washington’s final preseason game last year.

This could be Wilson’s fourth suspension in just over a year, with his third coming on May 2 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs.

The hit was particularly nasty, and the recipient, Zach Anton-Resse, suffered a concussion and a broken jaw as a result.

If the league deems the hit worthy of a suspension, the book is likely going to get thrown at Wilson. He’s a repeat offender, repeatedly.

Wilson signed a six-year, $31 million contract extension with the Caps over the summer after helping the Caps to their first Stanley Cup.

UPDATE:

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck