- The Washington Times - Friday, April 14, 2017

On Tuesday in Toronto, in response to a question about Capitals forward Tom Wilson’s ability to crash the net, Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said something relatively harmless that he may now wish he hadn’t.

“Nothing against Wils, because he works hard and all that, but he’s not as big of concern as a lot of people on their team,” Babcock said. “He’s a forechecker and he works hard, I think their fourth line has been real good for them.

“In saying that, they’ve got a lot of players that we’ll concern ourselves with more,” he said.

Wilson, of course, went on to score the game-winning goal in overtime Thursday night, helping the Capitals take the first game of their best-of-seven series against the Leafs. This of course, does not mean Babcock should abandon his strategy of focusing on, say, Alex Ovechkin in favor of a more Wilson-centric game plan, but he’s sure to hear about how his words came back to bite him with a hint of painful irony.

For Wilson, social media renders it impossible for him or any other player to avoid anything that can be perceived as shade from an opponent, especially this case because Wilson is from Toronto and has family and friends in Babcock’s home media market.

“I’m trying to take the high road here,” Wilson joked, asked about the comment for the umpteenth time Thursday. “I see it, obviously, because my phone is not off. It comes through. I get people sending me it and stuff. I’m not going to deny that I saw it.”

Wilson’s tone was good-natured and authentic. He did not seem bothered in the slightest. Instead of trying to shoot back at Babcock, he teased himself.

“But, honestly, it’s a pretty true quote,” Wilson said, laughing. “He’s got a point. We’ve got Ovi, Nicky, Osh, Kuzy. There are other guys that they have to worry about. Maybe the way he said it seemed a little … But you know what? I’m glad that he said I worked hard. That’s a compliment. I’ll take that. You know what, there’s a lot of threats in this room and that’s all he was saying. It maybe came off a little bit of the wrong way, but we went out there and we played. He’s a respected coach in this league and we’ll leave it at that.”

It’s easier to take the high road after an OT game-winner, but Wilson took it nonetheless.


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