Aaron Rome Suspended 4 Games for Hit on Nathan Horton as the NHL Gets One Right

Franklin SteeleAnalyst IIJune 7, 2011

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 06:  Aaron Rome #29 of the Vancouver Canucks gets ejected due to misconduct in the first period to Nathan Horton #18 of the Boston Bruins during Game Three of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 6, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

My fingers almost couldn't type the words in the headline: The NHL got one right. 


I'm sure some fans just can't understand why this hit is unacceptable. Why what Aaron Rome did was outside of the rules. I guess after years of desensitization people have come to expect this kind of brutality lacing their hockey games.

But the NHL brass made a bold statement in suspending Rome for the rest of the Stanley Cup Final—a four-game sentence was passed down on Tuesday afternoon. It is a sentence that is both warranted and a step in the right direction for a disciplinary team that hasn't been able to put the jagged plays in the jagged holes for as long as I can remember.

It honestly is a strange feeling, not having to sit here and scratch my head and wonder to myself "do they allow binge drinking in the NHL Offices?" Because usually that's the only reason I can think of when trying to find logic where there is only smoke and mirrors.

Perhaps I am getting my hopes up here, but this could actually be the first sign that the NHL means it when they say that they are going to take these kinds of hits out of hockey. No, not the good open-ice checks that all fans love.

The deliberate blows to the head.

Let me retype that just for emphasis: I don't want to see good, clean open-ice hits eliminated from the game. And they won't be. All Aaron Rome had to do in this case was take the body, and he still makes a helluva impact without sending the guy to the emergency room.

This isn't the '70s anymore. 

Players are too big and too strong and much too fast to be hitting each other, causing the brain to smack so hard against the skull that there is permanent damage to the tissue. The rule changes have increased the speed even more so, as has training regimens designed to turn these players into heat seeking projectiles.

So now the players have to be protected from themselves, and be held accountable when they almost paralyze each other. And that is what could have happened last night, folks.

I have been hearing the chorus all morning: he was admiring the pass, he wasn't paying attention, he crossed the blue line without looking, yadda yadda.

Horse crap.

Horton dished the puck, and was looking to see what was going to happen with the play.  Sincerely imagine in your head him turning his head as soon as he makes that pass. Do you really think that he would have had time to react to Rome?

The hit was late. Period. That's the reason he got suspended. This wasn't a hockey play. It was a reckless one. And again, let me reiterate: all Rome has to do here is take the body instead of the head and the game moves on with no stretcher.

That garbage isn't hockey. Matt Cooke's blindside hits are not hockey. Mike Richards' destruction of brains isn't hockey. It's just brutal, and violent.

I'm not soft. I played hockey for 13 years, standing at a towering 5'6''. Trust me, I know what it's like to get rocked. And I also know what it's like to get back up after the play because a guy took the body, as opposed to getting lights shined in my eyes because he took the head.

So before you go accusing me of not knowing the game, know that.

The NHL did the right thing today. They said not in my game. Not even on the biggest of stages.  The players may now actually be accountable for their actions, instead of scoring OT winners in decisive games.

Message received: No head shots. Not any more.