Tom Wilson had some plans to cancel.
His family, and his fiancé's family, were already waiting down in Florida for vacation during the All-Star break. Now they’ll have to make other arrangements.
Wednesday was a whirlwind for the Capitals winger, as captain Alex Ovechkin was placed on the COVID list, thus making him unable to play against the Oilers. Ovechkin also was removed from the All-Star team, which allowed Wilson to be the replacement for Ovechkin.
This will be Wilson’s first All-Star Weekend appearance as he heads out to Las Vegas for the events.
“I mean it’s the roller coaster of the year,” Wilson said. “You wake up and you’re like oh no, ‘O’ can’t play tonight, and I called him on the way here was kinda like, ‘Hey thank you, I guess, because I get to experience a pretty cool event because of it.’ But I’m happy to represent the Caps and fill in for him. It sucks to lose your captain, your leader and such a big part of your team for tonight. Obviously (for) the NHL for the All-Star Game. But I’m looking forward to it.”
Wilson has 31 points in 43 games this season with 13 goals. He is on track for a career-high in points as well, as he’s made up one-third of what’s usually the Capitals top line with himself, Ovechkin and center Evgeny Kuznetsov.
“It's one of the best events every year,” Wilson said. “I think this year is going to be great in Vegas. The league is putting a lot of work into it, a lot of exciting names, young players going out there. So I think that's part of the best part of it, going out there and meeting the guys, hanging out with them and just being part of an overall great weekend for hockey and trying to grow the game, and no better place to do it than Vegas."
Wilson said he called his brothers right away to share the news that he was the official replacement for Ovechkin, a moment he was proud to share with his family.
He began his NHL career with 21 goals in his first four seasons combined, when he was nearly exclusively used as a fourth-line grinder, but has since become a more well-rounded player in the years since and someone the Capitals have used on the power play absent T.J. Oshie.
“I would have never really expected it when I came into the league but growing up as a kid those All-Star Games were really cool,” Wilson said. “A lot of those names, you watched them, the jerseys, the event, everything was awesome. You always kind of dreamed of being able to do that one day, so when I got asked today, it was a huge honor, a huge privilege and it’s exciting. At this point in my career it’s something that I’m really looking forward to and I’ll take in stride and I’m looking forward to the weekend.”