The NHL fined the New York Rangers $250,000 on Thursday after the franchise publicly called for the firing of the league’s head of player safety George Parros over the department’s decision not to suspend Capitals winger Tom Wilson.
The Rangers released a scathing statement Tuesday directed toward Parros and Wilson following the department player of safety’s decision to only fine Wilson $5,000 for his hit on Pavel Buchnevich in a scrum — the maximum amount players can be punished under the league’s collective bargaining agreement. The Rangers were also upset the league did not punish Wilson, who has been suspended multiple times for past hits, for slamming star Artemi Panarin in the skirmish.
In a statement Thursday, the NHL said the Rangers’ conduct was beyond acceptable.
“Public comments of the nature issued by the Rangers that were personal in nature and demanding of a League executive will not be tolerated,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “While we don’t expect our Clubs to agree with every decision rendered by the Department of Player Safety, the extent to which the Rangers expressed their disagreement was unacceptable.
“It’s terribly unfair to question George Parros’ professionalism and dedication to his role and the Department of Player Safety. “
The fine is the latest whirlwind development involving the incident. On Wednesday, the Rangers and the Capitals engaged in six fights over the first five minutes, coming in response to Monday’s melee between the two teams.
Earlier that day, the Rangers also abruptly fired team president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton — less than 24 hours after the Rangers released the statement blasting Parros. The team, which is nearing the end of a losing season in which it will miss the playoffs, did not say if the firings had anything to do with the controversy.
The Capitals have defended Wilson, who has not spoken to the media since the brawl.
“I think Tom is handling it like a pro,” teammate Lars Eller said prior to Wednesday’s game. “I think the thing has been blown out of proportion. I’ve played in the league for a while and I’ve seen a lot worse things happen. I don’t think people see things clearly when it comes to Tom with things he’s involved in.”