Aaron Rome Hospitalizes Nathan Horton: Good Hit, or Worthy of Suspension?

Joel Prosser@@JoelProsserCorrespondent IJune 7, 2011

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 06:  Linesman Pierre Racicot #65 calls for assistance for Nathan Horton #18 of the Boston Bruins after being check by Aaron Rome (not pictured) #29 of the Vancouver Canucks during Game Three of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 6, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

At the 14:57 mark of the first period of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Nathan Horton of the Bruins was left lying on the ice by Aaron Rome of the Vancouver Canucks.

Horton would eventually be taken off the ice on a stretcher with spinal supports. The update during the broadcast was that he had movement of all his limbs, so no spinal injury, but he does have a concussion.

I'm sure there is a lot of outrage over this hit in Boston, especially in light of Marc Savard's situation.

It was a good clean hit... in the 1990's.

This was a classic Scott Stevens-style hit.

Horton passed the puck to Milan Lucic, and then blithely crossed the blueline while admiring his pass, only to laid out by Aaron Rome's shoulder.

Rome didn't jump, or raise his arms. He just delivered a solid shoulder check to a player who should have been expecting a hit, but who wasn't paying attention.

Because Horton wasn't paying attention, and therefore wasn't braced for impact, Rome's shoulder hit his head, and that was it for Horton, who crumpled to the ice.

Now I said this was a good hit in the 1990's. Scott Stevens made a career out of these hits, and in fact it reminded me of Steven's laying out Paul Kariya in the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals.

It isn't a good hit anymore.

Knowing what we know now about concussions, these sort of hits need to be removed from the game, not lionized.

Rome was initially assessed a minor for interference, which itself was a bit of a stretch as the hit wasn't that late, and he had position on Horton.

The penalty was later upgraded to a major plus a game misconduct after the stretcher was brought out for Horton.

Rome doesn't have a reputation as a dirty player, but he is responsible for making the hit.

And Horton shares in the responsibility because he put himself in that position by admiring his pass instead of looking ahead as he crossed the blueline.

But in the end, I think Rome needs to be suspended for the hit, because Boston just lost the services of their best forward for at least Games 4, 5 and 6 due to the NHL's concussion protocol.

This isn't a laughing matter like the Burrows/Bergeron biting incident, or Horton throwing a water bottle into the stands. This is an incident that could have left a player paralyzed, and could still have ended his career with the concussion.

However, we all know the NHL's supplemental discipline is a farce at best, so we'll have to see what Mike Murphy rules on Tuesday.

He might decide that the Canucks 8-1 spanking by the Bruins was punishment enough, although that would be wrong since the Canucks killed off the major penalty, and actually carried the play in the scoreless first period after the hit.

He might throw the book at Rome and suspend him for the rest of the playoffs.

Or he might spin the NHL's wheel of justice.


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