Penguins' Zach Aston-Reese on the mend after violent Tom Wilson hit
Looking like a teen-ager who just had his wisdom teeth pulled, Zach Aston-Reese walked into the Penguins locker room Wednesday as his teammates were packing up their gear for the summer.
For the past week, his diet has consisted of soup, smoothies and ice cream.
“Lots of ice cream,” he said with a laugh.
The Stanley Cup playoffs can be a physical, violent exercise, and this season, Aston-Reese is the sympathetic face of the carnage.
“It's not too bad. Just more discomfort than anything right now,” Aston-Reese said. “I feel kind of like a chipmunk.”
Aston-Reese suffered a concussion and broken jaw when Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson leveled him with a shoulder to the chin in Game 3 of the Metropolitan Division finals May 1. He said he was making progress in his recovery from the concussion and had surgery to repair the jaw about a week ago.
“Plates and screws. Hopefully I won't be setting off too many metal detectors,” he joked.
The hit and subsequent three-game suspension handed down to Wilson prompted loud, heated debates in all corners of the hockey world.
Aston-Reese didn't want to participate in any of that. He said he just wishes players would stop hitting other players in the head.
“The NHL stepped in and handed out a suspension,” Aston-Reese said. “It's something – high hits – that they're trying to get rid of. I think moving forward guys just need to be a little more aware and have more control of their body when going in to throw big hits like that.”
Wilson was spotted smiling and laughing on the Capitals bench afterwards, but Aston-Reese said he wasn't holding that against him.
“I didn't really think anything of it,” he said. “It could have been a million different things and not my injury.”
Aston-Reese said Wilson has not reached out to him to apologize.
“I'm kind of just moving past all that and all those emotions and focusing on recovering and having a good summer and focusing on next season,” he said.