AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
The Washington Capitals ensured fan favorite and former first-round pick Tom Wilson retires as in Red, White, and Blue on Friday, announcing that the club had signed the right wing to a seven-year contract extension.
The news, understandably, brought a quick reaction from across the Capitals hockey spectrum, including Wilson’s teammates, fans, and others around the hockey world.
Wilson took to social media to express his gratitude and heartfelt thanks to the Capitals and the city of Washington, D.C.:
Wilson’s longtime teammate and fellow right wing T.J. Oshie (also his sidekick in the duo’s famous pre-game shenanigans) took to his own Instagram account to welcome back his good friend, praising Wilson’s leadership, contributions, and General Manager Brian MacLellan, adding that he would have given No. 43 “$10 million.”.
Tom’s wife Taylor and TJ’s wife Lauren also posted their congratulations; Taylor commented, “Proud of you and SO happy to be staying in DC!”, while Lauren tagged both Tom and Taylor, saying “So happy for you guys! No one more deserving!”.
MacLellan released the following statement upon the announcement of Wilson’s contract:
“Tom possesses all the intangibles needed to win in this League and we are extremely pleased to sign him to a long-term contract, giving him the opportunity to finish his career in a Capitals’ uniform. Throughout his career, Tom has improved every facet of his game through his drive and competitiveness. We feel his work ethic and leadership qualities will be a tremendous asset to our organization for years to come.”
The Capitals’ fan base was understandably ecstatic about the news from what has, outside of the hiring of a new coaching staff and a few free agent signings, been a quiet summer ahead of the training camp next month.
Dan Snyder is gone. Tom Wilson resigned. This summer was great for DC.
— Fatou 🏽 (@FatouSadio) August 4, 2023
— The CAPtasTROPHIES🏒🏆🎵 (@captastrophies) August 4, 2023
Love how all the people who were begging for Tom Wilson to be traded to their team, are now the loudest voices screaming that this is a bad contract
— William (@unclewallyBv2) August 4, 2023
Wilson’s signing continues the Capitals’ commitment to their longtime core but inks an integral part of the locker room and on-ice morale for the foreseeable future. While Alex Ovechkin has three years remaining on his own, long-term contract signed in 2021, there is a good chance that, when The Great Eight hangs up his yellow-laced skates, Wilson may be the player to next don the captain’s “C” on the upper-right of his jersey.
Drafted by the Caps with the 16th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Wilson has evolved to become arguably, the team’s best all-around player, a far cry from his early playing days on the fourth-line in an enforcer-like role that has earned him the easy choice for “villain” among other NHL clubs and fanbases. Three times a 20-goal scorer, at just 29-years old, Wilson already ranks 16th in Games Played (tied with teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov) with 680, 24th in Goals (with a likely rise several spots this season) with 138, third in Penalty Minutes with 1,299, and second in Hits with 2,039.
Wilson’s off-ice contributions to the DMV have also cemented him in the hearts of Caps faithful, with his Forty Three’s Friends charitable organization donating tickets to local Make-A-Wish children and visits with the families following the games.
Tom Wilson’s value is undoubtedly well-known to the Capitals, their fans, and his teammates. Although the rest of the league has had something or another to say about No. 43’s style of play, there is no dispute that, given the chance, every single general manager in the NHL would do anything to have a player of his skillset on their roster. Thankfully for the Capitals, there is only one original and he will be taking the ice in their sweater going forward.
By Michael Fleetwood