Top 10 2011 Playoff Moments: Rome-Horton hit goes down in infamy

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From Apr. 1-10, ProHockeyTalk will be counting down the Top 10 moments from the 2011 postseason.

Here’s No. 2 — Vancouver’s Aaron Rome getting the longest suspension in Stanley Cup finals history for hitting Boston’s Nathan Horton.

Coming into the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, it’s fair to say the hockey world was unfamiliar with Aaron Rome. The 27-year-old journeyman had spent the first four years of his NHL career bouncing from Anaheim to Columbus to Vancouver, where he finally settled in as a depth defenseman.

Coming into the Cup Final, Rome had been a semi-regular lineup fixture for the Canucks. He played in two of seven first-round games against Chicago, all six of the second-round victory against Nashville, three of five in the Western Conference finals and the first two of the Stanley Cup finals.

Game 3 was when everybody became familiar with Aaron Rome.

Five minutes into the first period, Rome unloaded on an unsuspecting Nathan Horton, knocking the Bruins forward out of the series:

Rome’s punishment for the hit was severe — the most severe in NHL history. Interim discipline czar Mike Murphy laid the hammer down, suspending Rome for the remainder of the Cup finals (four games.)

Prior to this, only three players had ever been suspended in the finals — Chris Pronger, Ville Niemenen and Jiri Fischer — with none of them receiving more than a single game as punishment. In essence, Rome quadrupled the longest suspension in Stanley Cup finals history.

“Two factors were considered in reaching this decision,” Murphy said in a statement. “The hit by Rome was clearly beyond what is acceptable in terms of how late it was delivered after Horton had released the puck, and it caused a significant injury.”

It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t fun to watch and it was one of the most unsettling moments of the playoffs. But it’s also one of the most contentious moments in Cup finals history…which is why it’s on our list.