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NHL fines New York Rangers $250K for criticizing Tom Wilson decision

Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson (43), shown Oct. 16, 2019, was fined $5,000 earlier this week after an incident during Monday's game against the New York Rangers. File Photo by Alex Edelman/UPI
Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson (43), shown Oct. 16, 2019, was fined $5,000 earlier this week after an incident during Monday's game against the New York Rangers. File Photo by Alex Edelman/UPI | License Photo

May 6 (UPI) -- The NHL hit the New York Rangers with a $250,000 fine Thursday after the team called for the firing of Department of Player Safety head George Parros earlier this week.

The Rangers released the scathing statement after the league decided to fine but not suspend Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson for incidents with New York forwards Pavel Buchnevich and Artemi Panarin on Monday night.

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Wilson was handed a $5,000 fine -- the maximum allowed under the current collective bargaining agreement -- for punching Buchnevich in the head while he was defenseless on the ice.

Moments later, Wilson threw Panarin to the ice during a scrum between the teams. Wilson wasn't disciplined for that altercation.

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The Rangers said Panarin suffered a lower-body injury as a result of Wilson's actions. The injury kept Panarin out of the third period of Monday's game and ended the star winger's season.

"Wilson's dangerous and reckless actions caused an injury to Artemi Panarin that will prevent him from playing again this season," the Rangers said in their statement Tuesday. "We view this as a dereliction of duty by NHL Head of Player Safety, George Parros, and believe he is unfit to continue in his current role."

On Thursday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the Rangers' public comments "will not be tolerated."

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"Public comments of the nature issued by the Rangers that were personal in nature and demeaning of a league executive will not be tolerated," Bettman said in a news release.

"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 is terribly unfair to question George Parros' professionalism and dedication to his role and the Department of Player Safety."

This isn't the first time the NHL has penalized teams for publicly criticizing league officials. The San Jose Sharks and general manager Ron Wilson were fined $100,000 in 2013 for ripping the league's decision to suspend forward Raffi Torres for an illegal hit to the head of Los Angeles Kings forward Jarret Stoll.

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In 2011, Kings general manager Dean Lombardi was fined $50,000 for singling out senior vice president of hockey operations Mike Murphy over a controversial goal review.

On Wednesday, the Rangers fired general manager Jeff Gorton and team president John Davidson. New York promoted associate GM Chris Drury to both roles. The change wasn't related to the statement that criticized the NHL.

Later Wednesday night, the Rangers played Wilson and the Capitals for the first time since Panarin was injured. That matchup featured six fights in the first period and 141 total penalty minutes.

Buchnevich also received a one-game suspension for high-sticking the Capitals' Anthony Mantha.

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