While tonight’s game was ugly for more than a few reasons, as will happen in an 8-1 game that saw the Bruins beat the Canucks in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, there was some true awfulness to come out of it thanks to Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome.
Rome took out Bruins forward Nathan Horton early in the first period of tonight’s game with a wicked blindside hit to the head, a virtual automatic violation of the NHL’s Rule 48 outlawing hits to the head of defenseless players. Rome’s hit put Horton down on the ice and dazed before he was removed from the ice on a stretcher and taken to Mass General Hospital for observation. Rome was given a five minute major for interference and a game misconduct booting him from the game.
With the debate over blows to the head lingering on all season long, Rome’s hit won’t go without being talked to as he’s got an in-person meeting at 11 a.m. ET scheduled with NHL VP of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy. Murphy is filling in for Colin Campbell as Campbell has to recuse himself as his son Greg plays for the Bruins. Given the severity of the hit and how late and blindsided it was, the expectation is that Rome will be suspended for the play.
As always, trying to predict potential suspensions is a fool’s gambit in the NHL and with things going on in the Stanley Cup finals the importance of the games skews how punishment can be doled out. This time around with the hit being as bad as it was and it happening on the league’s biggest stage, expect the league to take action on Rome. While the league failed to take any action against Alex Burrows for his bite on Patrice Bergeron, this blow to the head of Horton is serious business as far as keeping up appearances for the NHL.
If the league doesn’t take action against Rome the credibility the game has for how seriously they’re trying to protect their players will come under serious fire. They cannot afford to miss on this one.