- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 15, 2022

Capitals winger Tom Wilson said Sunday he suffered a “pretty significant” knee injury in Washington’s first-round series against the Florida Panthers, telling reporters it will “be some time” before he can retake the ice. 

Wilson played just three shifts before he got hurt in Game 1 and missed the next five outings. The 28-year-old called the injury a “weird, kind of freak thing,” saying it happened when he tried to avoid colliding with Florida’s MacKenzie Weegar on a hit. Wilson, who had a career year in the regular season, left the game shortly after he scored Washington’s first goal of the postseason.

Asked if he damaged his ACL, Wilson declined to specify. He said the team’s medical staff was still trying to determine whether he needs surgery.

“I’ve got to talk to the doctors,” Wilson said.  “We’ve obviously been talking quite a bit but the focus was on the team. We’re digesting all this right now.” 

During the series, the Capitals listed Wilson as “day-to-day” — keeping open the possibility, at least publicly, that Wilson could hopefully return in the postseason. Wilson even took the ice before Games 5 and 6 to work out individually. But general manager Brian MacLellan said Sunday that Wilson would not be able to return for the playoffs, even if Washington had kept playing.

If Wilson does require surgery, MacLellan expressed optimism that the winger would be available by the start of next season. 

The injury, though, was a disappointing end for Wilson, who scored a career-high 24 goals this past season. He added another 28 assists — also a career-best — to finish with 52 points, topping his previous high of 44 in 2019-20. 

“My summer sucks now,” Wilson said. “I’m the kind of guy, to have the uncertainty was tough. I was trying to get back and trying everything I could. Every person you walk by, every fan, every person was like, ‘When are you back? We need you back.’ That was tough. I wanted to be out there. So, you feel like you let people down and that sucks. But I just try to play as hard as I can and that stuff happens. It sucks. At this time of year, you’re driving in, you see all the fans, that’s why I play. Those are the games. You try to play for your city and take pride in that, so that sucked.  

“To have a little bit of clarity now is good. It’s going to be a grind for me. I’ve got to start my recovery. As an athlete it’s always nice to have goals and a clear mindset of what you need to do and we’re getting there with the doctors and stuff and we’ll go from there.”

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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