PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Scott Wilson should have been celebrating with his teammates.
Instead, he had his head down, was marching up the tunnel and had a trainer closely following him.
Who knows what was going through Wilson’s mind? Who knows if Wilson knew what was going through his own mind? Who knows what the impact caused at that moment or what will be the lasting impact? Who knows if he’s in or out for Game 6 on Tuesday night for the Penguins because of this? Hell, who knows if he knew where he was?
What I do know is this: The play that caused that moment showed the deepest kind of cowardice from Tommy Wingels that an athlete can display.
It was that old cheap-shot-in-a-blowout-game act that Wingels decided to partake in. As the final seconds were winding off in what ended up being a 7-0 victory for the Penguins in Game 5, Wingels appeared to throw an elbow directly to the face of Wilson causing a swift and impactful blow to Wilson’s head.
It was despicable.
It was deplorable.
It was the kind of stuff that you show in a training video when you go through examples of the plays your should be trying to eradicate from the NHL if you really are serious about the prevention and education of head injuries.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan didn’t have an update on Wilson’s status after the game, but to be truthful, how Wilson comes out of this should mean very little. The act, in and of itself regardless of outcome, is what should be punished.
Wingels deserves, by virtue of being reckless and playing with what looked like obvious intent to injure, to be out for at least a game. For me, he should be out a lot longer than just a game, but the way the NHL operates, I’ll take a one-game suspension as a victory of sorts.
I’ve been trying to play this scenario through the eyes of Scott Wilson. Your team is comfortably ahead, all that’s left is the formality of ticking away the remaining time and both sides know it. For your part, all you want to do is escape without getting hurt and pile into a postgame handshake line with your teammates who all were — far and above — the better team than Ottawa on Sunday.
Then, out of nowhere, you are hit with an elbow like that when there was no possible way you could have protected yourself. No matter what Wilson’s actions were on that play, he couldn’t have protected himself from that nasty blow.
That’s why he needs the NHL to protect him here. The Penguins should demand the NHL protect Wilson here. Wilson needs to be protected from the worst kind of fake-tough act there is in sports — the kind of cheap shot like Wingels put on Wilson at the end of a blowout.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at email@example.com. Check out his bio here.