Stanley Cup Finals: Will Aaron Rome Be Suspended for His Hit on Nathan Horton?

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Stanley Cup Finals:  Will Aaron Rome Be Suspended for His Hit on Nathan Horton?
Elsa/Getty Images

The fantastic display from the Boston Bruins in the third game of the Stanley Cup Finals is definitely going to be the secondary story of what happened Monday night.

Even though they poured eight goals on the Vancouver Canucks after two very close games in Vancouver, everybody's thoughts and prayers are going to reside with Nathan Horton.

Early in the game, Horton was absolutely crushed by a late hit from Aaron Rome of the Vancouver Canucks.

It was one of those situations where Rome saw a chance for a big hit, took it, and the absolute worst possible thing that could have happened, happened.

For this play, Rome received a five minute penalty for interference, a game misconduct, and was tossed from the game.

The question that will have to be answered next is; will he be suspended for this play?

Before I address that, let me say one thing straight off. 

There is absolutely no doubt that this was a penalty and that being kicked out of the game was the right decision to make by the officials in order to make sure that things stayed about playing the game and not about exacting any type of revenge.

In this case, I absolutely agree with the officials.

Aaron Rome is tossed from Game 3 after a late hit on Nathan Horton

Now, to the question about whether or not Rome will be suspended.

In my humble hockey opinion, I do not believe that Rome will be suspended for this hit on Horton.

First, the primary contact of the hit was not with his head.

Let me state that I made sure I watched the replay several times before I finished writing this piece.

Rome's shoulder was there by Horton's head, but had the contact been to his head, the physics of their positioning would have had Horton going more in a spinning pattern rather than straight down.

Second, this does not fall under Rule 48 which states:

A lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact is not permitted.

This was a direct collision with a guy who was looking to where he passed the puck when a defender stepped up on him for a big hit.

Just as the CBC announcer said in the above link, part of the responsibility lies with Horton to make certain that he knows what is going on.

In the defenseman's mind, he's protecting his blue-line by stepping up and not allowing easy entry, and Horton has to be aware of that.

Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Nathan Horton is taken off the ice in a stretcher in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Hopefully he will recover very quickly.

On the other hand, Rome can't see the potential for the hit and go at it even though the play has clearly moved on.

Obviously at full speed it is a difficult thing to make that type of adjustment, but the amount of time Rome had was sufficient to lighten the contact, in my opinion.

Now, I realize that the comments that I've made may not sit very well with many people who will be reading this, but I urge you all, especially Bruins fans, to consider something before you react with the overly emotional responses.

There were people, and still are people, who were clamouring for the head of Zdeno Chara after his hit on Max Pacioretty earlier this season.

Wait, I'm not done, so don't react quite yet.

Yes, different hit and different area of the ice, but similar concepts.

Chara didn't have to hit him as hard since they were at the funny spot in the ice. 

Chara had time to modify the hit, but still followed through with it.

Both men were taken off of the ice in stretchers.

Chara received identical penalties to Rome on this play, and was tossed from the game.

Zdeno Chara was not suspended under similar circumstances in the regular season.

A lot of striking similarities to this particular situation.

The reason that I bring this up is very simple, Chara was not suspended for that play.

I would argue that Chara's hit falls more into the scope of Rule 48 than Rome's does because his hit was a lateral one, and Pacioretty's head was the primary spot of impact.

If there was no suspension for that hit, then I would say that there is ample precedent set to not have a suspension on Rome's hit.

Is it still possible that there could be a suspension levied for this particular hit? Absolutely, though I would be surprised if a suspension was given.

Obviously, Bruins fans will be very upset about this particular event and I completely understand why; but to suspend a player for a hockey hit that went wrong starts to cross that line that people don't want to touch.

You know the line, where the inherent physical nature of the game is changed and players are afraid to check anybody anymore because they are afraid they might get suspended.

I think we can all agree that nobody wants that to happen.

I know we can all agree that we all wish Nathan Horton the best and hope for his speedy recovery.

At the end of the day, however, I don't think that Aaron Rome will be suspended for this hit.

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