A freshly clean shaven Tom Wilson was one of the first Capitals players to talk to the press on Breakdown Day, Sunday.
Wilson, wearing black, somberly spoke about an injury he suffered three shifts into Game One against the Florida Panthers. Shortly after scoring the Capitals’ first goal of the postseason, Wilson tried to deliver a big hit to MacKenzie Weegar behind the net and crashed into the boards. One of Wilson’s skates could be seen turned to the side upon impact on replays. The Toronto native was unable to return and missed the rest of the six-game first-round series.
Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette described the injury as a lower-body issue and that Wilson was out day-to-day. Today, Wilson outlined the issue as a knee injury that may need surgery. The injury will keep Wilson out for “some time.”
“I have a pretty significant injury,” Wilson said. “I’ve got to talk to the doctors. We’ve obviously been talking quite a bit but the focus was on the team.”
“It was kind of a weird, freak thing,” Wilson said. “I went into the hit and tweaked my knee. Everything you heard was honest. I was doing everything I could to get back. Just one of those things that I wasn’t able to. Bit of a bummer but it is what it is. It kind of sucked that it happened at this time (of year). I was pretty good all season (with injuries).”
“I tried to avoid the hit a little bit,” Wilson continued. “I was going in, I was going in pretty fast, and I tried to avoid it a little bit and I jeopardized myself. Probably hyper-extended my leg in the boards or something. I pivoted around the boards to get onto my left leg and I don’t know exactly what happened. I tried it out and it was no good.”
When asked specifically if he tore his ACL, Wilson evaded the question.
“I don’t really know how this works,” Wilson said. “I haven’t had many injuries. I don’t know how specific I want to get right now to be completely honest with you. I’m a guy who plays pretty hard and I don’t want to give too much information. I’m sure it’ll come out at some point. We’ll leave that for another day.”
Wilson confirmed that despite his knee issue, he was trying to return in the series – perhaps unwisely. When the Capitals were facing elimination after their 5-3 Game Five loss, Wilson got off the team flight back from Florida and went to MedStar Capitals Iceplex. Wilson skated hard to test out his knee from him but ultimately did not feel he could return. He did clarify an observation from an RMNB reader that spotted him at MedStar Capitals Iceplex. “I saw somewhere where I was flying around the ice, Wilson said smirking. “I definitely wasn’t flying around.”
He added, “It was one of those things where I was trying to be the unique situation where the odd person can kind of [come back from it]. Get a brace and get out there and there’s a chance. I was trying everything I could. I just wasn’t able to do it.”
Wilson became choked up as he recalled his rehab. “I was trying everything I could (to come back). Every person you walk by, every fan, every person, ‘We need you back, we need you back.’ That was tough. You feel a little bit like you let people down and that sucks.
“watching [the series] was extremely tough just thinking you know, you could help out or be a little bit of a difference in different moments.”
Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan was not as optimistic as Wilson about him returning in the series or later on down the line in deeper rounds.
“He was not going to come back,” MacLellan said. “They’re having medical exits here. They’ll make a decision in the next day or two on what we’re doing. [Surgery] is on the table.”
Despite how the postseason ended, Wilson had his best year to date. The first line right wing registered career highs in goals (24), assists (28), points (52), and power-play points (10) this season and made his first All-Star Game appearance. For the third consecutive year, Wilson kept his penalty minutes under 100. He did not face any supplemental discipline for any hits he hurt out.
Wanted to send a huge thank you to everyone for their support all season. Caps fans are truly the best in the league. I wanted nothing more than to be out there with the guys trying to bring another Cup to DC, but am very proud of this team and their fight. See you next season!
— Tom Wilson (@tom_wilso) May 14, 2022
“My summer sucks now in more ways than one,” Wilson said of both the Capitals losing in the first round and the intense rehab that awaits him. “I’ve got to start my recovery.”