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Rangers-Capitals erupts with full-on line brawl after Tom Wilson controversy

·3 min read
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Tensions were bound to be running extremely high after Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson avoided suspension for his series of violent acts on Monday night against the New York Rangers and two days later, the barbarity begun immediately. 

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As soon as the puck dropped, both teams entered a full-on, no holds barred line brawl. Six players - Nic Down, Carl Hagelin and Garnet Hathaway for Washington, Kevin Rooney, Colin Blackwell and Phillip Di Giuseppe for New York — were all cited five minutes for fighting, one second into the game. 

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Wilson, of course, is the culprit responsible for all of this ugliness, and was targeted immediately upon stepping onto the ice for his first shift. Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith lined Wilson up and dropped the gloves mere seconds into the shift. Met by a chorus of boos, Wilson remained undeterred and got the better of Smith, while being cheered on from the box by his Capitals teammates. 

Because the NHL rules are archaic, backwards and often at odds with logic, Smith was assessed the two-minute minor for being the instigator. 

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The first period carnage didn't stop there. Anthony Bitteto and Michael Raffl, along with Ryan Strome and Lars Eller, both entered duels at the 4:14 mark. Strome was among the most vocal players this week, expressing his disgust and disrespect toward Wilson in full detail, after it was revealed that Rangers star Artemi Panarin will miss the duration of the regular season due to injury. 

Neither Strome or Eller are known for their fighting ability, but in this game, everyone appears to be a potential combatant. 

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It's been a really grotesque start and a situation that could've been avoided entirely, if the NHL Department of Safety's George Parros elected to do his job, instead of granting an arbitrary $5,000 fine to Wilson, who has previously been suspended five times. 

New York's disgust with the league's Department of Player Safety was noted in an open statement Tuesday, condemning Wilson's "horrifying act of violence" while declaring that Parros' ruling was an example of dereliction of duty. 

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In a somewhat surprising move, the Rangers fired president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton on Wednesday. There hasn't been a direct correlation between the statement and the firings, but it was reported by TSN's Frank Seravalli that both executives tried to separate themselves from New York's statement, and it appears to be a unilateral decision by much-loathed owner James Dolan. 

This has been one of the uglier ends to the regular season we can think of, and we'll keep you posted if more wreckage emerges from the Capitals-Rangers game, if you can call it that. 

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