Was Tom Wilson’s Fight vs The Ducks Warranted?

Tom Wilson, Washington Capitals (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Tom Wilson, Washington Capitals (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Tom Wilson is going to be a lightning rod until the day he retires. He can remain clean from his most recent suspension until the last game he plays in the NHL in somewhere near a decade. If he were to deliver a bad hit in his final game you would have fans say, “Oh there he goes again! It was only a matter of time.” or something along those lines.

I’m fairly sure Wilson doesn’t really care that much if fans of other team don’t like him. If Wilson played on another team Washington Capitals fans would hate him just as much as a lot of the other fans or fanbases do. It’s just the way it is.

In terms of other fans not liking him, and Caps fans not liking that other fans don’t like him, the old saying of, “You made your bed, now lay in it” is a pretty good saying to bring up when discussing Wilson.

A lot of what Wilson does will be scrutinized. That is definitely what we’re going to do here today. Not for an overly bad reason however. He didn’t lay a big hit on anybody that will be debated to the nth degree. The only thing we are going to debate today is something that might happen a lot around the NHL. Did Tom Wilson get into, or start a fight that he didn’t need to be in?

Midway through the second period against the Anaheim Ducks on the 6th of December, Wilson decided to fight Ducks defenseman Simon Benoit. Surprisingly, that was the Capitals first fight of the season and we’re twenty-six games into the year.

The fight wasn’t out of nowhere. Benoit had hit John Carlson a smidge late and no doubt a little low for a lot of peoples liking, including my own. That hit ended up being penalized (for interference) and the Capitals ended up on the man advantage. A power play the team would eventually waste.

The question I pose is this. Why fight? The hit on Carlson wasn’t egregiously dirty. The hit could have possibly been avoided if Carlson had skated to the side instead of admiring his dump-in for that one second. Most defenseman tend to skate to the side after dump-ins anyways since they usually aren’t asked to go chase the puck. So if Carlson was watching there, he didn’t have to get hit, and if it was going to happen anyways it probably wouldn’t have looked as bad as it ended up being.

On top of that, the hit was penalized. You got your “justice”. If you want even more justice punish them on the power play and put a goal on the board.

At the end of the day, they didn’t score on that power play. Benoit served his time, and in my opinion, time to move on. Tom Wilson thought otherwise. I’m sure you could guess by now but Wilson decided a fight was the next move. They fight,  they go in the box for five minutes and then history would tell us that the Ducks would score two goals taking a 3-2 lead.

I’m not going to blame Wilson for that momentum shift. Watching the game, it didn’t feel like a huge shift in momentum. It just kind of feels like it because the Ducks ended up with two goals. Quite frankly, I’m not even sure I’m blaming Wilson at all. I’m more so blaming hockey culture here. Why was the fight necessary?

I understand the whole “stick up for your teammate” mentality. I get it and usually I really do like it. But not in this softer situation. If Benoit had taken a run at Carlson and had a really nasty kneeing penalty or hit from behind or headshot or something, then I get the fight.

This was not a nasty situation though. It was a pretty average penalty, and that penalty was called. If the penalty wasn’t called then I kind of understand a fight there. Vigilante justice if you will. That would be telling the other team and future teams “you’re not doing that against our guys”. But the penalty was called.

To me, the only thing Wilson did was compact bad things. The Capitals wasted that power play, Wilson then fought and now he’s sitting in the penalty box for five minutes. Tom Wilson is too important to be sitting in a box for five minutes. Especially when it’s a situation that probably isn’t needed.

This is strictly a matter of opinion. I’m sure in this instance you will have a lot of people who will like what Wilson did, sticking up for a teammate. There could also be a lot of people like myself who just say it is unnecessary here.

Like I said, this is more a complaint about the way hockey is a little bit. I don’t understand why we feel the need to “protect our teammates” on silly little things. I really do appreciate this mentality on big and dirty hits. But this wasn’t one of those.

The only thing to come from this decision was one of your best players now being unavailable for five minutes, and in this game getting two goals scored against you.

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So I’ll ask again. Was Tom Wilson’s fight vs Simon Benoit warranted?