After Washington’s Tom Wilson nearly took off the head of Boston’s Brandon Carlo on Friday night, the usual conflicting forces emerged: Those who somehow justify Wilson’s act as a “hockey hit,” and those who want Wilson and such vile acts to forever disappear from hockey.
The former are full of ***t, the latter hopelessly naïve.
Perhaps, technically, Wilson didn’t target Carlo’s head. But if the bullet ricochets off the shoulder and splatters the victim’s head, the shooter is still charged with murder. Wilson was predatory and intended to inflict injury, as he has intended and done so many times before, and the nuances of the application thereof don’t matter.
As for those who would eliminate such instances, the NHL could have long ago done that. Make any hit remotely similar to Wilson’s a major penalty and game ejection, apply that standard mercilessly, and have the same attitude toward the resulting suspensions.
But Wilson didn’t even get a minor penalty Friday. Outcry got him suspended seven games. His previous ban, also for a hit to the head, was 14 games (reduced from 20).
The repeat offender got less punishment when he repeated.
That’s because the NHL wants violent hockey and doesn’t mind incidents like Friday’s beyond token discipline and paying lip service. The NHL has that old-school Canadian mentality that hockey should contain an element of legitimate danger, that intimidation should factor in just like skill and speed. The department of player safety is run by former goon George Parros, FFS.
More than merely a few involved with the NHL want it like that. If Wilson were available tomorrow, every single team in the NHL would take him.
Wilson isn’t the cause. He’s the symptom. Blame the NHL for enabling in very willing fashion. This is exactly what the NHL wants.
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