With the Capitals’ fathers gathered together in a luxury suite at BB&T Center on Thursday night, you can imagine the uncomfortable feeling Keven Wilson must have had when he watched his son skate off the ice early in the third period with a five-minute boarding major and a game misconduct for shouldering Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell into the boards.
As his father, Keven Wilson sees Tom Wilson differently than most and on many occasions needs to bite his tongue when asked about his son’s rambunctious style on the ice.
“Hockey is a game that’s played faster than real life,” Keven Wilson said before departing on the Caps’ two-game trip to Florida, where they’ll face the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at Amalie Arena (7 p.m., CSN).
“It requires responses and reflexes that are faster than real life. What we see on the ice is heightened emotions, heightened athleticism, and I don’t think it’s fair to take that parallel down to the level of real life.
“The exuberance and the enthusiasm is there, but it’s dialed up (on the ice). If you saw Tom on an off-day he’d be equally exuberant and enthusiastic, but in a more proletariat way.”
Through 27 games, Tom Wilson, 21, has two goals, five assists and a team-high 58 penalty minutes. But don’t be fooled by all those PIMs. Two months into his third NHL season, Wilson has just one fighting major this season, a tussle with Calgary’s Brandon Bollig on Nov. 13.
That’s a far cry from the 26 fights he got into in his first two seasons with the Capitals. But it’s the reputation Wilson earned from those 26 fights that could be working against him this season.
Of his 58 penalty minutes, Wilson has just two five-minute majors – one for fighting, the other for boarding Campbell – a team-high 18 minors, one 10-minute misconduct and one game misconduct.
Like many Caps fans, Keven Wilson probably wouldn’t agree with every one of the calls against his son this season. But if there is one thing he has learned about Tom it’s been his resiliency and resolve. And he credits Tom’s older brother, Peter, for instilling that.
“He has an older brother, five years older, and Tom was up for the challenge,” Keven Wilson said. “He felt he could compete. Right from the beginning he kept at it and never doubted himself and I think his older brother should get a ton of credit for where he is now.”
Wilson, who lives in Toronto, is making his third dads’ trip with the Capitals and said he wouldn’t miss it for the world.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s so much fun. It reconnects dads who have had to let go of their kids and the great times they’ve had. Everybody talks about the sacrifices, but I think it was fun. Everybody went into this ready, willing and able. It’s a journey and to end up here is something indescribable.”
Wilson said that journey has produced a collection of proud moments for him as a father, but his greatest satisfaction is that his son is getting paid to play a game he’s loved since he was 4 years old.
“Every once in a while I check back in with him and say, ‘Are you having fun?’ And so far the response has always been, ‘I’m having a blast.’ And that’s all I’ve got to hear.”