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Tom Wilson hijacked hockey this week – with help from the NHL

Tom Wilson hijacked hockey this week – with help from the NHL

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Tom Wilson hijacked the NHL this week

With only a handful of regular season games for each team and the Stanley Cup Playoffs around the corner, there’s plenty of fun to tell right now. The contending teams are vying for the playoff spot (will we get that long-awaited Leafs-Canadiens series in the first round?) Or are looking for one of the last spots left. Star players give us a show every night. Connor McDavid is putting the finishing touches on a one-season masterpiece that propels him to a ridiculous 102 points in 56 games, while Auston Matthews can reach 40 goals in just 49 games if he does. marks another tonight.

But instead, the hockey world has spent the entire week obsessed with the NHL’s 98th goal scorer.

It all started Monday night when Washington’s Tom Wilson sparked a post-whistle brawl by hitting a Rangers player who was lying on the ice next to the Caps net. Seconds later, the big guy mingled with New York star Artemi Panarin, knocking him down and causing him an injury that forced Panarin out of the game and, the Rangers said, out of the remaining three games. of the team eliminated in the playoffs.

With bad blood boiling and the Caps and Rangers ahead for a rematch on Wednesday night, the NHL could have easily put out the fire by suspending Wilson for one game. In a vacuum, it might have been a little tough given the relatively mundane (by hockey standards) nature of his actions. But Wilson, who is 27, has already been suspended five times by the league and committed many other dangerous acts (see for yourself here), earning a reputation as the dirtiest player in the game. As a repeat offender, almost no one would have complained of a one-game ban for this incident.

So naturally the NHL chose not to suspend Wilson, fining him US $ 5,000 instead. This shocked a lot of hockey fans and caused the Rangers to lose their mind momentarily. On Tuesday, the team released a bizarre (and quite melodramatic) statement calling for NHL Disciplinary Chief George Parros to be fired for failing to suspend Wilson for this “horrific act of violence” (it cost them a league fine of $ 250,000). Less than 24 hours later, the Rangers fired general manager Jeff Gorton and President John Davidson. They made sure to disclose that these moves were a response to the team’s disappointing performance this season, not the statement, but the timing was interesting.

Then last night, with emotions still burning and Wilson cleared to dress for the Caps-Rangers rematch, we had a scene that was both breathtaking and extremely predictable. The second the puck dropped to start the game, the three pairs of opposing forwards lined up in the middle of the ice dropped the gloves and got into a fight. Soon after, Brendan Smith of New York fought Wilson. A few minutes later, two more fights broke out. Here’s what Washington’s penalty bench looked like with less than five minutes of the game:

Amid all the violence, something beautiful happened in this game. Washington’s TJ Oshie scored a hat trick in his first appearance since his father died earlier this week. It could have been what everyone was talking about today – just as we could have spent this week marveling at McDavid and Matthews and all the good things that the regular season home stretch brings. All it would have taken was a simple one-game suspension without controversy. Has the NHL somehow failed to figure this out? Or did he get exactly what he wanted?

Quickly…

The developers of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine donate it to Olympic athletes. The doses will be shipped this month so countries can get all of their Olympic teams (athletes, coaches, staff) vaccinated with a second dose in time for the Tokyo Games at the end of July. It will be up to the governments of those countries and their National Olympic Committees to determine how to distribute the shots. In some places (Canada, for example), the idea of ​​vaccinating healthy young athletes at a time when many vulnerable people are still waiting for their injections remains controversial. Perhaps anticipating a backlash, the Canadian Olympic Committee said in a statement that “the Olympics hold special significance to the millions of Canadians who will be inspired by the resilience and determination of Canadian athletes this summer in Tokyo. As most provinces begin to immunize the general population, this announcement will help more Canadians get immunized faster. Learn more about vaccine donations and what they mean for the Tokyo Olympics here.

Canada won its fifth straight game at the World Women’s Curling Championship. Today’s 10-8 victory over Denmark put Canada (6-5) ahead of the Danes for sixth place in the standings. A top-six spot in the round robin is required to qualify for the playoffs and to secure a berth at the 2022 Olympics. Kerri Einarson’s Canadian rink has two more games to go – at 4 p.m. ET against the Japan (2-7) and tomorrow morning against China (4-6). Denmark (5-5), Germany (5-5) and South Korea (5-6) are just behind Canada in the standings. Learn more about today’s results here.

Canadian boxer Mandy Bujold leads her Olympic fight in court. The 11-time national flyweight champion and two-time Pan American champion didn’t like the way her first Olympic appearance ended. Illness before her second-round bout at the Rio 2016 Games brought her to hospital, leading to her elimination at the hands of a Chinese fighter. She thought she would have another shot at the Tokyo Olympics and had plenty of time to qualify after stepping out of the ring to have a child in 2018. But after the pandemic wiped out qualifying events, the Olympic field was built using revised rankings based on three events from 2018 and 2019 – when Bujold was on maternity leave. Given that she had an Olympic-caliber ranking before becoming pregnant, Bujold asked the International Olympic Committee to grant her a place in Tokyo. But they refused. She is now challenging this decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which could be her last hope. Learn more about Bujold’s fate in this story from CBC Sports’ Devin Heroux.

And finally…

John Means came painfully close to perfection. If you take a quick peek at last night’s boxscore, you might think the 28-year-old Orioles left-hander pitched the 24th perfect game in major league history and the first in nine years. He struck out all 27 batters he faced (12 per out), allowed no shots and walked no one. But there was one flaw: In the third inning, Means hit a Mariner with a curved ball so nasty that he escaped from the Baltimore catcher, allowing the batter to rush safely to first base on it. which was scored as a wild throw. The Orioles quickly wiped out the runner by catching him trying to steal the second, but that doesn’t bring a perfect game back to life. Silver liners for the means: He’s always pitched a non-hitter (Baltimore’s first by an individual since the great Jim Palmer in 1969) and, according to Elias’s sports bureau, he can now say he is the only great league in history to throw a perfect no without a hitter without steps, hitters and mistakes. Learn more about Means’ historic performance here.

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