Nathan Horton displays the "fencing response," a sign of neurological damage.
On Monday night at TD Garden in Boston, Boston’s Nathan Horton was knocked out of the game and into Massachusetts General Hospital by a vicious late hit from Vancouver’s Aaron Rome.
On Tuesday morning, the Bruins announced that Horton would miss the rest of the playoffs with a severe concussion.
Tuesday afternoon, NHL disciplinarian Michael Murphy announced that Rome would be suspended for four games.
So we are supposed to feel sorry for… Aaron Rome?
According to Manny Malhotra, we are:
“It’s devastating,” said center Manny Malhotra. “To be so close, to be playing in your dream, to now have it taken away, it obviously hurts a lot. That being said, he’s still a huge part of our team in that room. Just his attitude, his mentality, his focus, he’s going to help our guys a lot. I think as a group we don’t agree with the suspension.”
Here’s an idea: You don’t want to miss the Stanley Cup playoffs, don’t leap off your skates and drill a guy in the head more than a second after he’s released the puck.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault says Rome “isn’t a dirty player, never has been, never will be.” Whether he is or not is irrelevant. It was a dirty play.
Here’s Andrew Ference in February, after teammate Daniel Paille (not a dirty player; never disciplined before) was suspended four games for a head shot on Raymond Sawada (who was unhurt):
“It’s a bad hit, right?” said Ference. “You hear it from every player after they do it, they feel bad, and same thing, I talked to Danny [Paille] and he feels bad.
“You can’t be a hypocrite about it, though. I’ve thought about this a lot and had plenty of time to put things in perspective over the last year. Sidney Crosby has been very vocal about the head shots and blindside hits since he suffered one in the Winter Classic, but what did Crosby say after Cooke hit Savvy last year? Nothing.
“I thought a lot about that. You want to be a good teammate, but you shouldn’t be a hypocrite about it.”
So here’s the question: If that was Henrik Sedin being strapped to a backboard and carted off on a stretcher, would Alan Vigneault be protesting that it wasn’t a dirty hit?
Photo: Nathan Horton from Getty Images