NEW YORK – The National Hockey League’s Head of Player Safety, George Parros, was cited for “dereliction of duty” by the New York Rangers in a statement following another “slap on the wrist” for Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson, who was fined $5,000 after injuring the Rangers’ star player Artemi Panarin in a game on May 3 at Madison Square Garden, the New York Post reported.
The Rangers’ statement was released on May 4 and called Greek-American Parros “unfit to continue in his current role.”
Parros, 41, played nine season in the NHL as an “enforcer” before retiring in 2014. He was on the 2007 Stanley Cup-winning Anaheim Ducks. Parros joined the Department of Player Safety in September 2016 and in September 2017 was promoted to senior vice president of player safety, becoming the Head of Player Safety. “What uniquely positions me for the job is that I played the game as physically as anybody and I never once was fined or suspended,” Parros said of his promotion at the time, Sports Illustrated reported.
The Rangers’ statement read: “The New York Rangers are extremely disappointed that Capitals forward Tom Wilson was not suspended for his horrifying act of violence last night at Madison Square Garden. Wilson is a repeat offender with a long history of these type of acts and we find it shocking that the NHL and their Department of Player Safety failed to take the appropriate action and suspend him indefinitely. Wilson’s dangerous and reckless actions caused an injury to Artemi Panarin that will prevent him from playing again this season. 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.”
“Between drilling a defenseless Pavel Buchnevich further into the ice and then ravaging a helmet-less Panarin, which ended the star winger’s season, the Rangers clearly felt there was more than enough evidence for Wilson to be suspended,” the Post reported, adding that “instead, Wilson was hit with a meager fee, the maximum allowable under the collective bargaining agreement, for ‘roughing’ Buchnevich — which equates to approximately .0967 percent of the $5,166,666 salary he is due this season.”
“I just think it’s a joke, to be honest with you,” said Ryan Strome, who was part of the fracas, the Post reported. “I know it’s not my responsibility to make decisions, but I just can’t believe that. I think it sends a bad message, in my opinion. I think everyone pretty much agrees with that. I just think that the league missed one here big time.”
“It’s unfortunate, our best player is out for the rest of the year,” Strome continued, the Post reported. “It’s just an unfortunate incident that had nothing to do with the play, or the game of hockey. I think that’s kind of where the big issue is.”
The Rangers said that “Panarin suffered a lower-body injury on the play and would miss the team's final three games of the season,” ESPN reported.
The violence on May 3 carried over into the game on May 5 when the two teams met again on the ice and “combined for 72 penalty minutes in the first 4 minutes, 14 seconds of their game on Wednesday night, their first meeting after Capitals forward Tom Wilson injured Rangers star Artemi Panarin earlier this week,” ESPN reported.
“There were six separate fights to start the game at Madison Square Garden, including a line brawl one second after the opening faceoff,” ESPN reported, adding that “both teams put out forwards from their bottom six to open the game. For the Capitals, it was Nic Dowd, Carl Hagelin and Garnet Hathaway fighting the Rangers' Kevin Rooney, Colin Blackwell and Phillip Di Giuseppe, respectively.”
“Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith then fought Wilson on his first shift, 50 seconds into the game,” ESPN reported, noting that “Smith was given an instigator minor penalty and a 10-minute misconduct,” and “the Capitals announced during the second period that Wilson would not return with an upper-body injury.”
“The first period ended with the teams combining for 100 penalty minutes,” ESPN reported, adding that “there was no score after one.”
On May 5, the Rangers abruptly fired president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton with three games left in the season, a shocking move in the aftermath of the latest controversy for the storied NHL organization.
Chris Drury was named president and GM. He previously served as associate GM under Davidson and Gorton.
“We want to thank JD and Jeff for their contributions to the organization,” owner James Dolan said in a statement. “They are both great hockey professionals who worked hard for the Rangers. However, in order for the team to succeed in the manner our fans deserve, there needs to be a change in leadership.”
The stunning news came less than 24 hours after the team ripped the league for fining but not suspending Washington’s Tom Wilson for his role in the scrum Monday night that injured Rangers star Artemi Panarin.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)